OKC Labor Market Tight for Aircraft Mechanics

AAR Corp. would hire another 100 mechanics for its Oklahoma City aircraft maintenance and repair shop -- if it could find them.

But the Illinois-based company says it's hard to compete for workers against Oklahoma's biggest aerospace employer, Tinker Air Force Base. Tinker is hiring hundreds of civilian mechanics, and in many cases offering better compensation packages than smaller companies like AAR.

"So far they've been beating us in this regard," said AAR CEO David Storch. "We have the demand for employees but it's hard to find a skilled and trained work force."

The company has about 615 workers at its site at Will Rogers World Airport. Traditionally, many mechanics came to AAR after retiring from Tinker, but the reverse is starting to happen, said Storch, with AAR training workers and then losing them to Tinker.

So what do you do when your work force is aging or leaving to work for a competitor? You grow your own.

AAR is hoping to get a new generation interested in aircraft mechanics by promoting the profession, and AAR itself, in upcoming visits to Oklahoma City area high schools.

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