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Life in an FAA Repair Station During the COVID-19 Pandemic

[fa icon="calendar"] Jul 1, 2020 9:39:00 AM / by Ron Oetjen

This year has been weird.  Just weird.  For the past 3-4 years it’s been all that we can do at Sparkchasers to keep up with the demand of continually learning new products that are being released and the demands of our customers wanting ADS-B installations.  It’s felt like a lap in the car with Ricky Bobby in Talladega Nights, and then all of the sudden it all grinds to a sudden stop.  I’ve honestly never seen such as change from one extreme to another in business.

Covid-19 has dominated the news headlines and it has dominated the economy.  For us, the best plan was to take every precaution we could and continue working.  We did not layoff anyone but did not require employees to come to work if they felt uncomfortable.  Although it was not required, everyone continued to show up every day and we’ve walked this pandemic road together every step of the way. 

What’s changed?  The biggest notable change is the pace of the business.  When Covid-19 became the headline on the news Sparkchasers had an 8+ week backlog.  Then consumer confidence got very weak and we started to see canceled orders and customers putting installations on hold.  We started taking less and less phone calls and completing less quotes, as aircraft owners significantly reduced their spending.  Today, we have about a 3-4-week backlog and are working hard to stay ahead of this thing.

What has made up the sales since this pandemic has kicked off?  Aircraft owners have continued to do the FAA required stuff, but the optional nice-to-have stuff has taken a serious hit.  Aircraft owners are still doing annual inspections, so our maintenance team has continued to keep an extremely high pace.  However, optional spending on things like avionics upgrades has taken the most impact from the lack of consumer confidence. Not only did we have to protect ourselves from a pandemic, but we also must protect ourselves from a fledgling economy.

Protecting ourselves and our customers has not been that hard to be honest.  Our entire team has remained committed to sanitizing, washing hands, and social distancing.  It’s not real hard to social distance when you have nearly 20,000 sq/ft under roof and only 20 employees occupying the space.  We were social distancing before Dr. Fauci made the term cool! 

An election year with a pandemic and serious social unrest…all at the same time.  Don’t give up folks!  We’ll get through this together!  Fly safe!

Don't forget to check out our July auto-pilot promotion.  It's as exiting as the fireworks will be on the 4th of July!

Topics: Avionics, FAA, Aircraft Maintenance, Auto-pilot

Ron Oetjen

Written by Ron Oetjen