30 Years of ARSA: Still Sexy

In 1993’s special symposium edition of the hotline, executive director Sarah MacLeod declared regulations “sexy at last!”

It was a month of firsts – the first Sarah Says celebrated the first symposium – and Sarah heralded a new era of regulatory awareness:

“The Annual Repair Symposium held the attention of over two hundred registrants because substantive and current information on aviation regulation is the prophylactic which will keep business alive in the years to come. The days of paying attention to our business and regulatory habits, only after a problem is discovered, are in the past…

The success of the Symposium is an excellent sign that all businesses involved in the maintenance industry are realizing that their bottom line is being directly impacted by non-uniform regulatory application. Okay, regulatory compliance isn’t all that sexy, but it will keep you safely in business.”

Of course, the work is never done. The 2015 Legislative Day and Annual Repair Symposium will be held from March 18-20 in Arlington, VA. Registration opens soon, so make sure you’ll be there to continue bringing sexy back to aviation regulations.

Click here to relive the 1993 Annual Repair Symposium

Click here to relive the 1993 Annual Repair Symposium


More from the past three decades...

You Make it Possible

In his 2004 message to membership, then-President Gary H. Garvens reviewed the association’s recent accomplishments and looked ahead to its challenges for 2005. Garvens spoke of new developments that in the past decade have become dependable components of ARSA’s value to its members – the Strategic Leadership Conference, expanded hotline coverage, ARSA-led coalitions tackling regulatory issues, new publications and legal resources, etc.

He closed the update with a simple truth: “Your ARSA membership makes these products, services and initiatives possible.” The association’s members have always been, and will always be, the bedrock of its responsibility to aviation maintenance.

Since you make it possible, see how ARSA works for you – explore the member benefits page.

Click here see the entire October, 2004 hotline.

Click here see the entire October, 2004 hotline.

Joyeux Anniversaire

MONTREAL – On Oct. 15, the Aeronautical Repair Station Association (ARSA) celebrated its 30th birthday with a reception and dinner to open the 2014 Strategic Leadership Conference (SLC). The event continued on Oct. 16 with a full agenda that explored the state of the aviation maintenance industry.

For participants, the invitation-only SLC is a yearly opportunity to explore the issues most important to repair stations, their customers and the flying public. Through a series of speakers, panels and discussions, this year’s participants investigated public relations and international market development; providing executive-level industry leaders a forum to explore the future of global aviation maintenance.

For ARSA, 2014’s SLC was a perfect opportunity to celebrate three decades of service. In October of 1984, the association’s board of directors convened its inaugural meeting. Industry representatives worked with the fledgling staff to define a set of objectives for the one trade group that would be devoted to the unique needs of civil aviation maintenance.

“Looking back on those initial meetings and activities, it is amazing how far the industry has evolved while facing some of the exact same challenges today as in yesteryears,” said Sarah MacLeod, ARSA’s executive director, who was integral in its founding.  “Thankfully, the association is in a better position to address issues in the short and long term due to its record of persistence and perserverance.”

“My father was one of the association’s earliest supporters, so supporting ARSA is as much of a family enterprise as my own business,” said Gary Fortner, ARSA board member and vice president of engineering and quality control for Fortner Engineering in Glendale, California. “For 30 years, this has been my repair station’s runway to a larger world – a single voice that stands up and keeps this industry strong.”

“ARSA does so much for the repair station community,” said Gary Jordan, president of ARSA’s board of directors and president and CEO of Jordan Propeller Service in San Antonio, Texas. “Celebrating its birthday this week is very fitting. Industry leaders come together every year at the SLC to tackle the challenges that face us now and plan for successes to come. We’re honoring this association’s history by charging ahead into its future.”

Join the association in looking back to the beginning – and at all that has happened since. Visit to reflect on the work ARSA has done and consider what is ahead.


Almost Over Before it Really Began

Shortly after the initial formation of the association, two of its principal supporters took on other activities.

  • H. Grady Gatlin was an aviation attorney who started with the FAA; after which he ended up in private practice. The law firm that formed the trade association (The Law Firm of Anthony J. Obadal, P.C.) was renting office space to him when ARSA was created; indeed, he was the reason the industry decided to explore the formation of an association.
  • Robert Feeler was a well-known aviation consultant with extensive technical knowledge and a personal relationship with Grady.

Both gentlemen left the association after only about six months for other endeavors. Grady began working for a government contractor that ultimately drafted one of the many rewrites of part 145. Bob took on more private clients, leaving little time for the fledgling organization.

With the loss of the technical expertise, Tony Obadal requested Sarah MacLeod take a letter dissolving the association; Sarah refused to take the dictation (yes, she actually took dictation), instead she told her “boss” that she would learn the industry and run the association.

The rest, as they say, is history.

Thanks to Sarah’s resolve – along with the steadfast support of the aviation maintenance industry – ARSA continues to stand up for contract repair stations. To see more, visit the ARSA Works page.

1985 - Members Getting Members

In the first issue of the ARSA hotline – which has been dutifully delivered without interruption since March, 1985 – then-Executive Director Tony Obadal issued a challenge to the association’s growing membership:

“The need is known, we have the support of industry leaders and publications, and the confidence and cooperation of the FAA and congressional staffs. If each of you will spread the word, promote ARSA and get just three more repair stations or distributor/supplier associates to join up, we can be assured of a successful organization.”

In honor of 30 years as the voice of the aviation maintenance industry, take up Obadal’s three-decade-old challenge (and save some money in the process).

  • For each paid membership referral, the referring member will receive a credit of 10% of the applicant’s dues on its forthcoming membership renewal. For example, if you refer a $1,800 member, you will receive a credit of $180 towards your next membership renewal.
  • The maximum benefit is 100% of the referring member’s annual membership dues.
  • The applicant must clearly indicate on its application the name of the member company that referred it for membership.

To get started, visit ARSA’s members getting members page. For more information, contact us at

Click the icon to read the complete March 1985 edition of the hotline.

Click the icon to read the complete March 1985 edition of the hotline.

Note: A previous version of this post incorrectly described the benefits of the members getting members program.

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