The Aeronautical Repair Station Association (ARSA), seeking to quantify the extent of unmanned aircraft system (UAS) aftermarket activity amid some eye-popping fleet numbers, is asking its members for input on how much work they're doing on the growing category of aircraft.
FAA's Office of Unmanned Aircraft Systems has registered nearly a million UASs. While most of them are in the small-aircraft hobbyist category, there is growing use for commercial purposes. FAA also has, for the first time, proposed a certification basis for a UAS and is seeking public input.
What does this mean for the aftermarket? ARSA wants to find out.
It has posted a two-question poll on its website for repair stations to provide input on how much UAS work they've done, and if they are seeking new opportunities.
"On UAS, we haven’t really heard much, but we want to stimulate the discussion and see what comes up," says Brett Levanto, ARSA VP-Communications. "With [so many] new aircraft suddenly entering the airspace, we want to know what the response of the maintenance market is going to be."
Considerations about how UAS could affect the aftermarket aren't new. FAA and researchers have been conscious of potential issues for years, pondering everything from human factors to what an ideal UAS technician's background looks like.
Most of these discussions were grounded in theory, in part because the UAS market was nascent. ARSA is focused on what is happening now or in the near future, notably at the thousands of smaller repair stations among the 5,000 FAA-approved shops that play a key role in keeping the global aircraft fleet flying.
"ARSA cautiously avoids getting caught up in the hype of each 'next big thing,'" Levanto says. "But if our repair stations show us there’s a need, then we listen."