The Aircraft Electronics Association’s (AEA) 2021 Rate and Labor survey is underscoring the upbeat outlook for the industry, with some 60 percent of the respondents expecting to see their retrofit business increasing and 40 percent predicting business will remain the same, according to an article in the association’s latest edition of Avionics News. “You can count those predicting a decline by hand, with leftover fingers,” the article adds.
At the same time, however, labor remains a challenge, which is leading to hourly rate increases for many technicians across the U.S. Installers, in particular, saw wage jumps as more operators are opting to replace, rather than repair, equipment, particularly as spare parts for legacy systems become harder to track down, the association said. In the Central U.S. region, install technicians saw a 6 percent increase in starting pay to $19.36 an hour.
Overall, 76 percent of shops reported salary increases that averaged 5 percent. More telling, according to AEA, is that 52 percent of shops gave incentive pay. This is up from 35 percent in 2020.
However, some wages in the Central region did see declines. Instrument technicians, for example, witnessed a 2.2 percent slide and bench technicians in the region saw a 7 percent decrease overall.
The only other pay slide in the U.S. came in the East, with instrument techs experiencing a 4.1 percent reduction. However, bench techs in the region received the biggest jump at 9.2 percent. Overall, 81 percent of shops in the region reported increased pay, which averaged 5.6 percent. In the West, nearly 75 percent increased salaries an average of 6 percent. But, in contrast to the Central region, only 35 percent offered incentive pay. That was up from 25 percent a year earlier.
Meanwhile, 64 percent in the Central region increased their shop rates by an average of 7 percent and instrument shop rates alone increased nearly 10 percent. In the East, two-thirds of the shops anticipate an average of a 7 percent increase while 52 percent in the West are planning rate hikes of 7.4 percent next year. This is an increase from 2021 when 32 percent of shops in the West reported an average increase of 6.9 percent.