The Aeronautical Repair Station Association's (ARSA) 2019 Member Survey paints a picture of a thriving, international industry whose growth and vitality are being threatened by a chronic shortage of technical workers.
86 companies, representing a diverse cross section of the industry and ARSA's membership, responded to the annual data-gathering exercise. Across this variety of businesses, with locations across the globe, a number of key trends emerged. Many of these perspectives are consistent with responses provided to each of ARSA's recent member surveys:
- Profitability increasing, markets growing. ARSA members report that business activity is strong and they are confident about the future.
- Supporting global customer base. Nearly a quarter of respondents plan to seek new certifications from aviation authorities outside the United States in the next two years.
- Government business has big impact. More than half of respondents reported doing business with some federal, state or legal entity in the United States or overseas, including military contracts.
- Technician shortage is biggest concern, costs industry $1 billion per year. While the business forecast is good and industry leaders are generally optimistic, as reflected in past ARSA surveys, the technician shortage is a major concern.
Underscoring the workforce challenge, more than two-thirds of US companies reported vacant technician positions, a total of 4,615 openings. Those empty positions are having real consequences, increasing time to complete work, driving up overtime and training costs and preventing new business development.
Based on the survey data, ARSA projects the technician shortage is costing the US aviation maintenance industry $118.416 million per month ($1.412 billion per year) in lost revenue. Those figures underscore the importance of ARSA's work to attract, retain and train maintenance technicians. Among other things, the association is leading a coalition to secure funding for the new technician workforce development grant program created at ARSA's urging by the 2018 FAA reauthorization law and promoting repair station careers through its public relations and regulatory activities.