The Aeronautical Repair Station Association (ARSA), which represents nearly 700 members of the international aviation maintenance and alteration community, recently published the results of its 2007 member survey.
The survey highlighted the success and subsequent growing needs of the industry, as international contract maintenance stations continue to expand their role of ensuring safety and efficiency in the skies.
An overview of the membership reveals that the overwhelming majority of ARSA members (98.5 percent) hold FAA repair station certificates; more than two-thirds (68.4 percent) are also European Aviation Safety Administration approval holders. With these certifications comes a considerable level of oversight, with 42 percent reporting 11 or more external audits last year by regulators, customers and third-party accreditation bodies.
The survey results suggest that the repair station industry is thriving economically. More than two-thirds (71.4 percent) of survey respondents plan to add positions and/or hire new workers in the coming year. No survey respondent reported plans to eliminate positions. Additionally, 83 percent of the respondents are optimistic about business prospects for the coming year; 9 percent are ambivalent; and fewer than 8 percent are pessimistic.
However, ARSA says its members are confronting obstacles, including a shortage of technical workers, which was cited as the greatest challenge facing the aviation maintenance industry. Nearly 80 percent of survey respondents reported having had trouble finding skilled technical workers.
Additional areas of concern include the availability of instructions for continued airworthiness (70 percent of the respondents report having had some difficulty obtaining maintenance manuals from manufacturers), and the need to provide health insurance to employees (74.44 percent of the respondents reported that they had to reduce benefits or ask workers to shoulder more of the costs of health insurance in recent years).
The understaffing of the FAA also remains a concern. Slightly more than 24 percent of respondents reported losing customers or foregoing business opportunities because of regulatory delays resulting from inadequate FAA staffing.