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Aviation Maintenance Industry Struggling

A survey by the Aeronautical Repair Station Assocation (ARSA) found the aviation maintenance industry has been decimated by coronavirus-related economic disruptions.  With reports of widespread revenue declines, survey respondents said the declines have led to significant job losses, and they expect more layoffs are imminent as economic uncertainty continues.

A significant majority (87.8 percent) of U.S. respondents to ARSA’s June survey of FAA-certificated repair stations reported revenue declines in the first five months of the year, with an average drop of 45.9 percent from 2019 levels; and 70 percent said they expect this year’s revenues to fall below that of 2019.

The economic volatility has generated large job losses as respondents report that aggregate employment fell 26.8 percent – from 11,879 workers on January 1 to 8,699 employees on June 1.  If you extrapolate those results across the entire maintenance industry – which had 193,857 workers as of March 9, 2020 – American repair stations may have lost more than 50,000 workers since the beginning of the year.  (ARSA’s survey mirrors that of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which reports a 25 percent reduction in year-over-year aviation industry employment.

“Maintenance companies are desperate to hold on to the technical talent they’ve worked so hard to cultivate,” said ARSA Executive Vice President Christian A. Klein. “It’s extremely disheartening to watch all these layoffs happen in an industry that just a few months ago was facing severe worker shortages. This massive loss of technical talent is going to haunt aviation for years to come.”

ARSA’s survey was conducted online in June 2020. Of the 114 companies that responded, 98 were U.S. headquartered maintenance companies representing more than 250 repair station certificates in the United States and approximately two dozen foreign facilities.