Last Modified: Sunday, September 08, 2013 7:58 PM
Three weeks after AAR Corp. announced it would take over Aeroframe’s lease at Chennault International Airport, the Illinois-based company is turning wrenches and paying workers, said an AAR recruiter.
The company has hired 150 workers and plans to hire an additional 100. Right now, AAR doesn’t have a customer at the Lake Charles location, other than the 3-4 aircraft that were left over from Aeroframe and were in the middle of repair. Once the company builds up its customer base in Lake Charles, it hopes to have a 750-person workforce by 2017.
“It’s a lot about having the right people in the right places at the right time,” said Greg Dellinger, AAR's director of recruiting.
After acquiring the “incumbent workforce,” Dellinger said AAR will recruit statewide and from other states if needed.
On Tuesday, AAR obtained FAA approval to start operating an aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) facility at Chennault. By Friday, AAR employees had received their first paychecks. This came as a relief to many of the former Aeroframe employees as they had not been paid since early August. AAR has six aircraft repair stations, including the one at Chennault.
Dellinger said Southwest Louisiana was appealing because of the existing workforce and potential to grow with Sowela Technical Community College receiving $3.7 million to improve its aviation program. When AAR looked to open a sixth location because of customer demand, Dellinger said the 520,000 square feet of space at Chennault was the right fit. He said the large hangars will be utilized for robust, wide-body airbuses.
Founded in 1951, AAR stands for Allen Aircraft and Radio. The founder’s middle name was “Allen,” who started AAR after World War II with war assets: headsets and microphones that general aviation pilots would wear, Dellinger said. Within 10 years, commercial aviation would start to form and the company moved in that direction, he said. Now, AAR is separated into two groups: aviation services and technology products. AAR is the No. 1 MRO company in North America and ranked No. 3 in the world. The company employs about 6,000 people in 60 different locations worldwide.