If the industry is in recovery, AAR is in the vanguard. Despite a shortage of technicians worldwide, AAR has successfully been in growth mode since the FAA bestowed its blessing on a new maintenance facility in Duluth, Minn. last October.
The 188,000-sq-ft operation joined other U.S. facilities in Indianapolis; Oklahoma City; Miami; and Hot Springs, Ark., boosting the company’s worldwide maintenance capacity by approximately 10 percent. AAR reopened the once-abandoned hangar last November with one line of maintenance and added a second line of maintenance in March.
Most recently the company has ramped up a third line of maintenance to support Air Canada’s fleet of commercial aircraft as part of a multiyear agreement to perform MRO services. The facility currently has 276 employees and is interviewing for 40 more openings. AAR has space designated to implement a fourth line.
Recognizing that the demand for technicians exceeds the supply, AAR has sought creative ways to solve the shortfall, ranging from recruiting efforts such as job fairs to alliances with academia to develop its own talent.
Last January AAR held a job fair at its Indianapolis maintenance center to fill 70 jobs for aircraft and avionics technicians, including 20 positions for lead technicians, supervisors and inspectors. In the past year the company has recruited talent for its facilities in Duluth; Miami; Oklahoma City; and Hot Springs, Ark.
In the hunt for technicians with welding skills, AAR entered into a public-private collaboration with Goldsboro, N.C.’s Wayne Community College. Working in partnership, the two designed an eight-week welding certificate program to address a shortage at AAR Mobility Systems.
AAR recently opened a sixth North American MRO at Chennault International Airport in Lake Charles, La. The company has 250 positions initially and plans to fill another 500 by 2017.
“As we expand our North American MRO operations, we’re committed to building partnerships in Duluth and beyond to identify and develop the talented aircraft maintenance professionals we need to continue to be successful,” said Dany Kleiman, aviation services group vice president for repair and engineering.