As the Aeronautical Repair Station Association (ARSA) celebrates its 30th anniversary, executive director Sarah MacLeod reflects on what the MRO body has achieved and what the future holds.
The 30th anniversary of the ARSA’s formation enables us to look back to the time when a dollar bought a gallon of gas, 20 cents mailed a letter, The Terminator was playing in cinemas, Indira Ghandi was assassinated and Apple’s Macintosh computer came to market with its iconic commercial.
The ARSA board of directors first convened in October 1984 to establish objectives for the global civil aviation maintenance industry’s trade group. The board agreed that the body should aim to:
- - reduce the occurrence of capricious actions on the part of major manufacturers;
- - serve as a lobbying organisation before the US Congress;
- - represent the repair station community before the FAA and other government agencies; and
- - establish a liaison between the repair station community and civil aviation safety agencies to ensure the rights of companies to protest FAA actions without fear of reprisal.
In the 30 years since I created those minutes, the world has changed but the issues impacting international repair stations continue. The lists of repair stations and members have expanded and shifted. The association has grown in fits and starts and survived its own near misses. The core purpose of those original objectives remains the same: to be the voice of global civil aviation maintenance.
Back then we had to beg, harass and harangue manufacturers, regulators, legislators and the media to be heard. Today, we are asked to participate in wide-ranging conferences, rulemaking and lawmaking activities and are quoted by the press.
In the past, we were instrumental in writing the current version of Part 145 and ensuring the EASA and the FAA handle major and minor repairs appropriately under both systems in consideration of bilateral and technical agreements. We also played a key role in negotiating the legislative language used in international drug and alcohol testing requirements and in ensuring the establishment of numerous interpretative and preventive measures.
Right now we are ensuring that a simple seven-letter word is reinserted in the code of regulations and teaching the US government how to properly classify aviation maintenance professionals.
In the future we will adhere to our 20/20 Strategic Plan, become the “go-to” organisation for regulatory compliance training for Part 65 mechanics and repairmen, as well as Part 145 repair stations and lead coalitions to ensure that aviation maintenance is a technical career field of choice.
Now, as then, the association’s challenge is to always look ahead and help its members navigate an increasingly-hazardous regulatory environment. Join us in remembering where ARSA came from by visiting arsa.org/30-years-of-arsa. In the meantime, we will celebrate our 30th birthday by charging ahead into the future.