ARSA Legislative Day & Symposium: What We Learned

April 20, 2017

Each year the Aeronautical Repair Station Association (ARSA) brings the maintenance world to the capital of the United States. ARSA obviously focuses hard on providing the personal access and practical information that ARSA members and allies need. This year, participants got time with the FAA, EASA, ANAC, and ICAO as well as the U.S. Department of Commerce, Small Business Administration and elected officials and staffers from the 115th Congress. They also got exclusive access to market analysis, best practices for recruitment, and resources for small business success.

In the end, we hope our attendees leave a little smarter, but hosting a substantive event is a great opportunity for ARSA’s team to learn as well. By listening to the questions of members, reviewing information shared during panel discussions and breakouts and seeing from the perspective of D.C. visitors rather than a denizen, we help enhance our own understanding. Then we turn that new insight around for the benefit of maintenance professionals.

A few lessons from 2017:

Legislative Day – March 15: Redefining “Your Elected Officials”

Registrants for ARSA’s Legislative Day always get careful instruction for engaging their members of Congress. “To prepare for the event,” we tell them, “it’s very important that you schedule meetings with your elected officials.” As a result, repair station representatives meet with senators, representatives, and staffers in order to personalize aircraft maintenance and talk about how Washington can best serve the men and woman who perform it.

This year, we learned the value of broadly defining “your elected officials.” Rather than thinking small and reaching out to the senators and representative for a single facility, the most-effective members sent requests to congressmen from every state and district with any connection to the business, including other locations or the residence of employees.

The “footprint” of a company, from the sense of impactful legislative constituency, is broader than we might think.

Symposium – March 16: Thinking Beyond the NAA

ARSA’s impact with aviation regulators is unquestioned. For three decades, the association has built its reputation as the go-to source for compliance and advocacy. As such, the agenda is always heavy with regulators. Personal engagement with representatives from international NAAs and even the globally chartered ICAO is what gets many participants to the symposium in the first place.

After this year’s always-popular “opening salvos” on maintenance and certification, a luncheon address by a government auditor and an industry-led panel on workforce development, the day wrapped with an hour-long discussion on trade, international development, and small business resources. Panelists from the U.S. Department of Commerce and the Small Business Administration discussed the range of government support for industry.

ARSA members are more than just aviation certificate holders, they are businesses that drive the global economy and should recognize the complex governmental systems they must manage in support of their work.

Annual Meeting & Breakout Sessions – March 17: Diversify

Before attendees could catch flights home – or enjoy a chilly weekend in the D.C. area – they had their choice of breakout sessions: Three different panels covering military business, international certification (a topic covered at both the 2016 symposium and Strategic Leadership Conference), and engaging the executive branch. Industry panelists were joined by regulators and advocates to cover what repair stations should be doing and what they should be on the lookout for to succeed in 2017.

Friday breakouts usually offer a broad range of options in order to provide something for everyone. This year, that range reinforced the fact that success in the current political and regulatory environment will require a diversified effort. Whether it’s a business bolstering services for a different customer base (perhaps a new military contract), expanding into new markets by obtaining and maintaining international approvals, or expanding engagement in Washington.

There’s always plenty to learn when maintenance professionals gather, and ARSA ingested more than its fair share during Legislative Day and the Annual Repair Symposium. Now the time comes to turn these lessons into action, and to make the flying world a little better before we see each other again.

Catch up on these lessons and more by seeing what happened March 15-17 in the nation’s capital. Visit

Brett Levanto is vice president of operations of Obadal, Filler, MacLeod & Klein, P.L.C. managing firm and client communications in conjunction with regulatory and legislative policy initiatives. He provides strategic and logistical support for the Aeronautical Repair Station Association.

About the Author

Brett Levanto

Brett Levanto is vice president operation for the Aeronautical Repair Station Association (ARSA). He graduated from the George Washington University in 2004 and earned a Master of Public Policy from the College of William and Mary in 2009. For more information visit