In early March, ARSA hosted its 2022 Annual Conference.

Being together in the same room as members and colleagues was an incredible thrill: In 2020, the association’s annual event was likely the last aviation industry gathering to wrap before the world slid into pandemic-induced lockdown – many of this year’s attendees were traveling for the first time since.

Much like the rest of the world, the last two years changed the Conference. After going entirely online in 2021 (“the ARSA Morning Show,” as several viewers called it), the return to in-person attendance was welcome but demanded a livestream option for participants who couldn’t or weren’t ready to gather. To make good on the additional complexity, the association’s team included online access as a bonus for in-person registration: Each attendee could identify a “Conference Ambassador” to set up online access back at the facility.

Regardless of how each person got there (or for those online, how the content got to them – which was an adventure in and of itself), the Conference experience returned to the norm. For four days, attendees met with U.S. executive branch officials and engaged elected lawmakers, heard from international regulators – once again spanning four continents thanks to virtual presentation options – and connected with ARSA’s team on key matters worked by the association.

There were questions about bilateral agreements and parts documentation, as well as the implementation of Safety Management Systems. Discussions also explored “ripped from the headlines” subjects like international trade in the shadow of war in Ukraine, reemergence from the pandemic and continued economic uncertainty. Threaded through each topic were concerns about regulatory consistency, workforce development and business compliance.

The larger lesson from this year’s Conference is one of progress – slow, sure; halting at times, of course; hard to trust, yes; but progress nonetheless. The event showcased pandemic recovery (as highlighted during Oliver Wyman CAVOK’s release of ARSA’s 2022 Market Report), better government relationships (on display during the Executive to Executive Briefings, when each agency leader produced their own punch list of questions for the industry) and even steps towards long overdue rulemaking action.

This last example was delivered via keynote address by FAA Associate Administrator for Aviation Safety Billy Nolen. Nolen is an industry veteran making his first pass through the agency’s headquarters – at least as an employee – who was able to arrive at the ARSA Conference with news in hand: The government was in the final phase of publishing its overhaul of the rule governing Aviation Maintenance Technician Schools (14 CFR part 147).

This was exciting and interesting. On the one hand, reforming the 50+ year old rule has been “pressing” since at least 2003 (when the GAO issued the government’s first report on the subject). On the other, the unifying regulatory factor of ARSA’s work is the Repair Station Rule (part 145), so should Nolen’s announcement be important news for us?

Of course.

There is no Aviation Safety Rule that exists in vacuum. Each works together with those around it to inform the function of the system and carve the scope of each actor within it. Repair stations employ part 147 graduates – as well as a host of other professionals – who must understand compliance issues across all of 14 CFR.

As a result, ARSA has worked closely with industry colleagues – the Aviation Technician Education Council in particular – to press for action on the rule. The effort even reached the U.S. Congress, which mandated FAA action when it provided statutory language for the new rule as part of a large spending package in 2020.

Collaborating across the collective interests of industry is why we come together. At events like the Conference, that community is on clear display. In reality, though, the team is always at work, submitting petitions and requests, conducting side meetings and asking questions…and re-asking questions…in order to get to long sought-after outcomes.

Just like your favorite sports team, the aviation community keeps moving the ball up the field. Regardless of the specifics, each little advancement is a score on behalf of the entire industry.

You can see particulars about the Conference at If you attended, you should relive the experience by accessing materials, presentation slides and recordings of each session (remember the Digital Companion? It’s got it all I promise).

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