The new president’s inauguration has Washington a bit rattled. The nation’s capital has seen many transfers of power, but rarely with such a dramatic shift in tone and style. While political control has not shifted in Congress, Donald Trump’s tenor and priorities have added new volatility to the legislative process.
Let’s quickly review the policy landscape’s risks and opportunities for repair stations.
Starting with the opportunities, the first is for real regulatory reform that could improve the rulemaking process by making it more transparent and accountable. Legislation to improve career technical education programs and address America’s skilled worker shortage is also looking like a priority. And Congress may pass once-in-a-generation tax reform to make the code simpler and reduce rates for all businesses, which could be a boon to the small to medium-size enterprises that comprise 80% of the MRO market.
Now for the other side of the coin—risks. When it comes to tax reform, the devil will be in the details, and there are sure to be winners and losers. With FAA funding set to expire in September, reauthorization will give lawmakers the chance to impose new mandates on the FAA and costs on repair stations. Trump’s hostility to free trade could create an uncertain environment for both American and international repair stations. Tariffs and trade-war rhetoric creates enormous policy risk for the inherently global aviation maintenance community.
In the new Washington environment we must collectively educate the new crop of government leaders about the international and domestic aspects of the entire aviation industry, its massive economic impact, and the critical role repair stations play in aviation safety.
Every March, ARSA members do just that. By attending the association’s Legislative Day and Annual Repair Symposium, repair station representatives can practice personal engagement with all parts of the American government. This is the time to find the opportunities available to you: Wherever you are in the world, whatever groups you support, whichever politics you prefer, get involved with your elected officials and remind them of the simple truth that they can’t fly without us.
Christian A. Klein is the managing member of Obadal, Filler, MacLeod & Klein, Plc. overseeing the firm’s policy advocacy practice. He serves as the executive vice president of the Aeronautical Repair Station Association (ARSA) and represents the American Concrete Pressure Pipe Association.