Congress Targets VA Flight Training


image: Guidance Aviation

Leaders in Congress are working on legislative changes that would cut flight-training benefits for veterans, the Helicopter Association International said this week in a news release. HAI President Matt Zuccaro issued a “call to action,” saying the proposed changes would especially affect helicopter flight training. In addition, HAI said, under a new interpretation issued earlier this month, the VA will no longer reimburse veterans for private-pilot training offered by colleges that contract with nearby flight schools — the school must run its own flight program. In addition, new legislation would set a cap of $19,400 per year on educational reimbursements, an amount too low for most flight-training programs. These changes mean fewer veterans will be able to pursue a pilot career, says HAI.

HAI says the changes would especially affect those seeking helicopter ratings, where the cost of flight hours adds up quickly, and the high hourly costs of operation leaves providers without much room to reduce rates to fit the new limits. “Veterans will be significantly harmed by these cuts,” HAI said, and the commercial helicopter pilot shortage will get worse. These legislative changes are part of the omnibus spending bill moving through Congress this week. “Time is of the essence,” says HAI. “Contact your representatives and senators today.”