February 15

Executive Spotlight: John Cooper, SVP of Global Government and Defense at AAR


John Cooper, senior vice president of Global Government and Defense at AAR, recently spoke with ExecutiveBiz for the publication’s latest Executive Spotlight interview to discuss the growth and success that AAR is bringing into 2022 and the government and defense sectors.

In addition, John Cooper also discussed AAR’s recent $365M Air Force contract for aviation services as well as strategic goals for the coming year.

“Our plan is simple – delight our customers for the contracts we are executing, be the industry’s best in commercial derivative support, and balance our portfolio by expanding our operations and support into more tactical aircraft fleets.”

You can read the full Executive Spotlight interview with John Cooper below:

ExecutiveBiz: Congratulations on the recent results of AAR’s second quarter with $437M in quarterly sales and includes a $150M share repurchase program! What can you tell us about AAR’s expansion into the government/defense sectors and how AAR’s business strategy is driving organic growth and acquisition into 2022? 

John Cooper: “Thank you. Yes, we’ve had a great second quarter as our commercial operations are coming back. Our second quarter had strong sales, up 33 percent over prior year’s quarter and our Government and Defense operations continued to gain strength.

Our short-term strategy last year was to continue strong thru the COVID lock down by leveraging Government and Defense work, bolstering our uneven performance in commercial due to COVID.

Now commercial, although still somewhat uneven with the COVID variants, is gaining strength while Government and Defense is coming on strong.  So, in the end it worked really well for our company and kept our balance sheet strong.“

ExecutiveBiz: In Dec. AAR received a 10-year, $365M Air Force contract to support our forces in Europe for the F-16 aircraft. How does this contract validate decades of history and experience in aviation services for AAR as well as will drive the company to new heights in our sector? 

John Cooper: “With regards to the Government & Defense side of the business, you used a great word in your previous question that clearly describes our path…expansion! We’ve had some great wins over the last year or so that I believe validate our strategy and validates AAR as a world-class defense company.

Wins supporting the P-8 and C-40, gains in aircraft and parts sales, and some great wins in commodity overhaul to our Government customers all happened over the last year or so that really puts AAR on the map.

Now we’re expanding into the DoD’s tactical fleet business, adding to our current helicopter and C-130 experience – so this entire mix presents a really nice balance between commercial derivative and tactical aircraft and parts support and gives us great opportunities for future growth. While a simple plan, this is a big move for us and one that I want to continue working on.”

ExecutiveBiz: With us being over a month into 2022, what are your strategic goals for the coming year for AAR? What do you hope to accomplish and any new markets to keep an eye on? 

John Cooper: “Well like I mentioned, our plan is simple – delight our customers for the contracts we are executing, be the Industry’s best in Commercial derivative support, and balance our portfolio by expanding our operations and support into more tactical aircraft fleets.

One other area we want to leverage is our digital support offerings. We already use numerous proprietary products to manage our support, and it is definitely a positive discriminator for us and a big part of why we win. We want to continue to capitalize on our digital support, certainly internal to AAR, and potentially externally to Government and Defense customers.”

ExecutiveBiz: Also congrats on winning LOA’s Lifetime Achievement Award last year! As you look back, what are the most significant bits of advice you would give to someone looking to follow the same type of path from the Air Force and into the government and defense sectors?

John Cooper: “Thank you very much. I really feel so fortunate to have received this award. And to be recognized like that, when you look at the list of previous awardees, is really an honor. And by the way the Logistics Officers Association is an awesome organization and worth joining if you are in the Defense business.

My best advice – First, don’t worry about your career. Don’t worry about your advancement.  Worry about the mission… your universe of responsibility. If you care about the mission, really care, and every day you wake up focused on making it better, you’ll find professional satisfaction. And you’ll be noticed… advancement takes care of itself.

Second, you cannot get the mission done by yourself, so don’t try. Take care of your colleagues, subordinates, and bosses. The team will be stronger, and the mission will be better supported. And again… you’ll be noticed…”



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