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Study Confirms U.S. Aviation Maintenance Trade Surplus, Highlights Economic Risks of Industry Restrictions

Alexandria, VA, August 31, 2009 – A new study by the Aeronautical Repair Station Association (ARSA) provides fresh insights about the aviation maintenance (MRO) industry’s economic footprint and impact on the U.S. economy. ARSA is an international trade association representing MRO companies.

The report prepared by AeroStrategy, an Ann Arbor, Michigan-based management consultancy, determined that spending in the global MRO market exceeded $50 billion in 2008, with North America (the U.S. and Canada) accounting for $19.4 billion of the total. When induced and related economic effects are considered, the MRO industry’s impact on the U.S. economy is $39 billion per year.

AeroStrategy found that North America is a major net exporter of aviation maintenance services, enjoying a $2.4 billion positive balance of trade in this arena. While North America is a slight net importer of heavy airframe maintenance services, it has $1.4 billion and $1.2 billion trade surpluses in the engine overhaul and component maintenance services markets, respectively. The U.S. competitive advantage in these two areas has important economic benefits because one dollar of spending on airframe heavy maintenance generates just $1.38 in additional economic activity, while a dollar spent on engine overhaul and component maintenance services generates $1.85 and $1.67, respectively.

The report also found there are nearly 4,200 firms with more than 200,000 employees are involved in the civil MRO market in the United States. Eighty-five percent of those companies are small and medium-size enterprises, which account for 21 percent of all industry employment.

ARSA commissioned the study in part to better understand the consequences of legislation that would make it harder for aviation maintenance companies to serve international airlines. Of particular note is the aviation bill passed by the U.S. House of Representatives earlier this year that the European Union has said violates existing treaties. The EU has threatened to retaliate against U.S. companies if it becomes law.

“We now have a better understanding than ever about how small companies and their employees in communities throughout the United States are tied to the global marketplace.” ARSA Executive Director Sarah MacLeod said. “Congress should be looking for ways to make it easier for these U.S. companies to serve foreign customers, not trying to hamstring a highly-competitive sector of our economy.”

The study is part of ARSA’s Positive Publicity Campaign, a muli-tiered effort aimed at increasing visibility and messaging for the aviation maintenance industry. The campaign’s initial step was a survey of public opinion on the aviation maintenance community. Completed by Strat@comm, a Washington, DC-based strategic communications firm, the survey revealed an integral tie between public knowledge of aviation maintenance and corresponding support for industry initiatives.

The complete ARSA/AeroStrategy report is available here.

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About ARSA
ARSA has a distinguished, 25 year record of representing certificated aviation maintenance and alteration facilities. ARSA’s 700 members, a vast number of which are small businesses, are an important part of the $9 billion per year domestic air transportation support sector of the U.S. economy. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, this economic sector is responsible for more than 115,000 jobs and a total annual employer payroll of $3 billion.



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