One of the top two strategic threats facing repair stations is finding and retaining maintenance staff, and the issue is adversely affecting their businesses, according to a new industry survey.
The Aeronautical Repair Station Association’s (ARSA) 2018 member survey revealed that 80% of respondents said the mechanic workforce shortage results in work taking longer than it normally would. In addition, 28% of respondents said their companies are not adding new MRO capabilities, 20% have declined new work and 11% are not expanding facilities--all thanks at least in part to the shortage.
The survey, conducted between Jan. 23 and April 3, was answered by 125 ARSA member organizations. The association's membership includes 488 U.S. and non-U.S. approved maintenance facilities.
Respondents indicated their companies have more than 1,000 mechanic job vacancies combined. Extrapolating this across the association’s entire membership, this figure would climb to more than 2,500 open aviation technical jobs.
Multiplying that figure by estimated average revenue per employee figures, ARSA forecasts that members will forego between $333.5 million-$642.5 million in 2018 revenue if those open positions are not filled.
Earlier this year, Oliver Wyman’s Cavok Group estimated that by 2022, the demand for maintenance technicians will outstrip supply. If the ARSA survey is any indication, the workforce shortage affects could become even more prominent in coming years.
While the workforce shortage is painful, the ARSA survey found that the lack of access to maintenance information is equally painful—each issue was chosen by 53% of respondents as a business challenge. “Getting access to instructions for continued airworthiness has always been a focus of the maintenance community--it was essentially the founding issue for ARSA more than 30 years ago--but it once again has taken the lead among challenges that keep industry leaders awake at night,” says Brett Levanto, ARSA’s VP communications.
The other challenges are regulatory costs/burdens (45%), inconsistencies between regulatory systems (28%) and restrictions to international trade or markets (18%).
Despite these business concerns, ARSA’s survey shows that half of the respondents note their companies have increased profitability in the past two years, and 66% expect revenues to grow this year. Only 14% expect a decline in profitability.