Aviation, aerospace a state economic engine

Governor Mary Fallin Monday announced the findings of the Oklahoma Aviation & Aerospace Economic Impact Study which showed aviation and aerospace is now the second-largest economic engine in the state

The study shows that airports; off-airport aviation and aerospace businesses; and military aviation produce almost $44 billion in annual economic activity in Oklahoma. Altogether, aviation and aerospace businesses support 206,000 jobs and an $11.7 billion payroll. The average salary in aviation and aerospace is just over $73,000, according to the report.

“Oklahoma is one of the world’s premier destinations for the aerospace and defense industries,” said Fallin. “It is centrally located with developed infrastructure, a highly skilled workforce, competitive incentives and low cost of doing business.”

In a two-part look at Oklahoma’s public airports, including civilian and military, the study measured the total economic impact of each individual airport and then combined these individual airport impacts to determine the overall economic impact of the 109 airports in the Oklahoma Airport System and the state’s three Air Force bases: Altus, Tinker, and Vance.  The last comprehensive study of the state’s airport system was conducted in 1994.

“The footprint of aviation and aerospace in our state has grown dramatically – 250 percent – in the more than 20 years since our last study,” Fallin said. “There are about 1,100 aerospace and aviation business-related companies in our state.”

The study was coordinated by the Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission (OAC).

Owned by NASA and dubbed the Super Guppy in 2012 underwent maintenance work at Tinker Air Force Base.

“Aviation and aerospace is extensive in Oklahoma – it includes the 109 public airports that comprise the state system, the tenants on those airports such as American Airlines and the FAA Monroney Aeronautical Center; the three Air Force bases; and off-airport aerospace businesses like Boeing, NORDAM and FlightSafety,” OAC Director Victor Bird said. “Many of us knew aviation was big in Oklahoma, now we know just how big it is,. This study provides the foundation for system planning and future investment in our airport system for decades to come.”

In addition to the economic impact of the state airport system and the Air Force bases, the study measured the impact of off-airport aerospace businesses.  There are over 870 businesses not located on airports that are in the aviation and aerospace industry.

The study also took an in-depth look at certain sectors within aviation.  It looked at agricultural aviation, aviation education, emergency medical and healthcare supported by aviation, and the unmanned aerial systems industry.

One of the unique facets the study detailed was how many non-aviation jobs were able to improve their efficiency through their use of aviation.  The study also considered how non-aviation businesses such as Devon, Quik Trip, and Michelin use aviation to be more efficient.

The annual economic impact of each airport is expressed in terms of annual jobs supported, payroll associated with these jobs, and annual economic activity or output generated by the airport.   The goal was to “put a face” on each airport so that the general public would have a better understanding of all the benefits that are supported by the day-to-day operation of Oklahoma’s public airports.

Airports will be provided with an individualized report documenting their impacts prior to a training session that will take place Sept.15 in Oklahoma City.  Other study documents, such as the technical report, legislative district reports, and a summary report, will be made available via the commission’s website.

To make the study possible the OAC received a $245,000 system-planning grant from the Federal Aviation Administration.  The agency was then able to match that amount with $245,000 of OAC funds and received additional financial support from the Oklahoma City Airport Trust, Tulsa Airport Improvement Trust, and the Tulsa Regional Chamber.

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