U.S. aviation staffing heats up

04.05.2012


The aviation sector is driving overall growth.
The aviation sector is driving overall growth.

CNBC reports that aviation manufacturing is one of the hottest industries within the U.S. economy. U.S.-based production firms have experienced torrid demand for their services and products over the past few years, even in the wake of the worst economic contraction since the Great Depression. As a result, firms are hiring workers at a fast clip, helping drive the overall economy.

RBC Bearings, an aviation company with offices in Connecticut, has benefited from the surging demand for planes and other aircraft and equipment. At the company's facility in Torrington, approximately 200 workers are currently building and supplying ball bearings to plane makers throughout the world. Such bearings play an exceedingly critical role in the production of airplanes and their engines, and rising demand for aircraft is helping fuel earnings at the company.

RBC Bearings chief executive Michael Hartnett said that demand has risen so precipitously that, in many ways, it is unprecedented, especially when put in a historical context.

"We have never really experienced in this country a demand for aircraft products to the level that is today," Hartnett said recently.

Along with aviation staffing, manufacturing and distribution companies, such as RBC Bearings, have benefited mightily from the uptick in demand. The company's sales jumped 17 percent in its last fiscal quarter, while aerospace component volume rose 30 percent last year. The company's earnings per share – an important indicator of real growth – are 35.1 percent this year. While that figure is high by any standard, it is even more so considering RBC Bearings' earnings per share increased 41.1 percent in its last fiscal year.

RBC Bearings' payroll has risen by 16 percent, and company executives are eyeing future growth as they recently announced plans to increase manufacturing capacity at four of its 23 plants.

Hartnett said that the company remains bullish on future growth prospects, even though the industry has experienced boom and bust patterns in the past. He said that demand remains high, especially from companies in emerging economies such as Brazil, Russia, India and China (BRIC).

"It seems to us that the strength to the aircraft market is good for that time period," he said, referring to demand for aircraft parts through 2015.

The booming aviation sector is helping not only workers in Connecticut, but also those elsewhere in the U.S. Fox19 News reports that Ohio's economy has benefited from the uptick in aviation manufacturing. More than 100,000 people in the state rely on the aviation sector for jobs, and Senator Rob Portman recently met with officials from the Aerospace and Aviation Council to discuss the state's aviation sector and future growth prospects.

Portman said the uptick in demand has helped formerly unemployed workers find jobs, and he stressed more can be done to support aviation manufacturing in the Buckeye State.

"A lot of the research is not being commercialized here in Ohio that's being done in Ohio, so we're doing great work here in Ohio and sometimes that's going other places. We [have to] be sure that the research, to the extent possible, stays here in Ohio to create jobs and opportunities," the senator said.

In Kentucky, public officials are also celebrating the aviation sector as helping drive an overall economic turnaround. Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear said this week that one company that deals in the sector recently hired 125 new workers, illustrating how such firms are playing an increasingly important role in the health of the nation's economy and job market.