Special Report: Flying High Part 2

Going Inside World Renown AAR

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It’s a world class maintenance facility right here in Duluth.

“That’s a great thing for the city and the state and the whole region here,” said Mark Ketterer, Vice President of Operations of AAR in Duluth.

Bringing jobs to the area and opportunities to the airport.

“There’s no question that the aviation sector in the last few years has really blossomed here in Duluth,” said Tom Werner, Executive Director of the Duluth Airport Authority.

AAR does repair, preventative maintenance and overhaul for Air Canada’s entire fleet of 88 aircraft.

Airplanes at AAR go through two levels of maintenance.

One is a block check, which takes just 14 days and the other is a heavy check, which takes 35-38 days.

They’ve partnered with Lake Superior College to keep the field booming.

The aviation maintenance training course is now up and running.

“We see that school as being a pipeline for us”,” said Ketterer.

It’ll take another year before AP mechanics are coming out of the program, but the future is bright.

“That’ll help us with our expansion goals, but it’ll also help us with replacement workers as our guys reach their retirement ages or they move on to different parts of the country,” said Ketterer.

AAR now brings more than $47 million a year to the region and is continually growing, which means big progress for the airport.

“AAR’s recent success since coming here and adding over 400 jobs to the aviation sector, it’s all been very, very positive news for us,” said Werner.

In turn, AAR is bringing international recognition to Duluth.

“Everybody around the world, all the airlines we work with, and we work with almost all of them from all over the world at one of our facilities, they all know now that AAR has a facility in Duluth that does airbus,” explained Ketterer.

With the aviation industry growing, other associated businesses have been popping up.

“The airport, for its part, is very, very proud of all of the activity here and all of the businesses that make up the community,” said Werner.

“We work with a lot of local companies. I mean a number of them,” said Ketterer.

These companies are able to provide services to AAR they don’t have in house.

Ketterer says there’s no stopping this business from really taking flight.

“Really the sky’s the limit. There’s so much opportunity up here and we just need to know how to capture that,” said Ketterer.

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