This story is part of AIN's continuing coverage of the impact of the coronavirus on aviation.
The aviation maintenance industry is showing signs of a post-pandemic recovery while concerns about a technician shortage are renewed, according to results of an Aeronautical Repair Station Association (ARSA) survey. The February-March survey of 116 U.S. companies representing 196 FAA repair stations showed a 15.6 percent year-over-year decline in workers, from 22,952 in January 2020 to 19,360 in January 2021.
An economic slowdown caused by Covid-19 prompted 56 percent of ARSA members to seek government assistance through forgivable Paycheck Protection Program loans. Another 14.6 percent received Small Business Administration Economic Injury Disaster Loans and 7.6 percent received aid through the Air Carrier Payroll Support Program.
But looking ahead, 59.2 percent of respondents plan to add workers this year while 33 percent expect employment to remain flat. Less than 2 percent expect layoffs. Additionally, more than half—55.3 percent—of the companies surveyed anticipate revenue and market growth this year, with 25.2 percent expecting business activity to remain flat. Less than 7 percent expect contraction and 12 percent were uncertain about business activity this year.
Despite the optimism, 52.5 percent of surveyed companies reported “difficulty finding/retaining technical talent” as a major threat to their companies going forward, according to the survey. During the period, 907 technical positions went unfilled, the survey noted.