With an eye toward expanding in the regional aircraft maintenance market, AAR Aircraft Services is exploring adding a maintenance, repair and overhaul facility in the Salina, Kan. area.
“We have other facilities but at times the demand exceeds our current capacity and it will likely increase in the future so we need to be prepared,” Greg Dellinger, director of recruiting for AAR Aircraft Services, told AIN. AAR has MRO facilities located in Oklahoma City; Indianapolis; Hot Springs, Ark.; and Miami.
On Monday and Tuesday of this week the company held a career networking event at Salina Municipal Airport to determine the status of the local talent pool.
“On Monday we were open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and saw about 240 people. By noon on Tuesday we’d talked to about another 40 before I had to catch a flight back to Chicago. We also spent time talking with Kansas Works, a workforce development agency, that had set up an email address for those who couldn’t attend to send in their résumés. It’s already put us in contact with 60 more people. At this point I can say the potential labor pool is there,” he said.
While Dellinger talked with only 15 A&P mechanics, he was still pleased with the trip. “We talked with Kansas State-Salina. It has a campus on the airport with an A&P program. It can put together a program for those who have an A&P but who haven’t worked in a while to bring them up to speed. In addition, it has 55 students currently enrolled in the A&P program and another 15 registered to begin this fall.”
Dellinger was particularly impressed with state and local response to AAR’s interest and the fact that Kansas has a displaced worker fund of $3,500 per individual for training.
The town was hard hit when Hawker Beechcraft announced in late 2009 it was closing its Salina operation and eliminating about 250 jobs. The company occupied eight of the 10 buildings available for lease from the Salina Airport Authority. Also affecting the local job market were cutbacks at Cessna in nearby Wichita. “We would have both a good workforce and facilities available in Salina,” Dellinger said.
“I was excited by what we found and was impressed with the welcome mat they turned out for us. This just came up in the past few weeks and they responded quickly and successfully. Management will look at the entire picture and make a determination. We’re talking with state and local government plus the airport authority to see if a realistic package can be put together to open a maintenance facility on the airport. It’s an active location; its America’s fueling stop. They push millions of gallons of jet fuel there because it’s effectively the halfway point between the east and west coasts. It’s a great location.”