Oklahoma City aerospace has roots in the air

OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. — In Oklahoma City, aerospace is not an upstart industry or a hope for the future. Aviation is in the community’s DNA. Since Wiley Post, a native Oklahoman, made history with the first solo flight around the world in 1933, Oklahoma has been on the cutting edge of aviation.

The numbers speak for themselves with more than 230 public- and private-sector aviation and aerospace firms in OKC, the industry directly or indirectly supports more than 67,600 workers and the production of $8.2 billion in goods and services.

The story of aerospace in Oklahoma City is more than raw numbers and size. The story of aerospace in Oklahoma City is also about diversity.

Commercial Aviation
The biggest names in aerospace have operations in Oklahoma City including Boeing Aerospace, Pratt & Whitney, Lockheed Martin Aircraft, Northrop Grumman, General Electric Aviation and AAR Aircraft Services.

More and more aviation companies are starting to see the advantage Oklahoma City can give their company. In fact, The Boeing Co. recently named OKC the new headquarters of its Aircraft Modernization and Sustainment division. Construction was completed in July 2016 on an $80 million, 290,000 square-foot facility in southeast Oklahoma City that will bring about 800 to 900 new jobs as part of the expansion.

Oklahoma City is continuing to develop as a key hub for aircraft maintenance, repair, and overhaul activity. Recent estimates indicate that 78 companies employee more than 4,700 workers provide these services in the Greater Oklahoma City region. These firms produce $1.3 billion in total output of goods and services annually and provide more than $370 million in labor income to employees.

Tinker Air Force Base
The heart of aerospace in the region is Tinker Air Force Base and the men and women who complete the missions assigned to the base. Tinker is the largest single-site employer in the state and contributes more than $3 billion to the local economy annually.

Since 1941, when the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber spearheaded the donation of the first 1,440 acres for the base, Tinker and Oklahoma City have supported each other.

Today, with more than 26,000 military and civilian employees, Tinker is the largest single-site employer in Oklahoma. The installation has an annual statewide economic impact of $3.6 billion, creating an estimated 33,000 secondary jobs. The installation covers nine square miles and has 760 buildings with a building floor space of more than 15 million square feet.

Construction is underway on a depot maintenance facility that will service the KC-46A Pegasus, the military’s next generation aerial refueling aircraft. The $500-million facility is expected to lead to the creation of more than 1,300 new, high-paying jobs and open up even more potential for public-private partnerships and advantages for aerospace companies.

The Oklahoma City Air Logistics Center at Tinker is the nation’s largest aircraft and jet engine repair center. All U.S. Air Force engines are repaired at the ALC. It is also the primary maintenance center for bombers, refuelers and reconnaissance aircraft including the E-3 AWACS, C/KC-135, KC- 10, B-1, B-2 and B-52.

The 2.5-million-square-foot Tinker Aerospace Complex is a former General Motors plant that now houses some of the 76th Maintenance Wing operations and other Department of Defense (DOD) workloads. The complex, considered the most advanced aviation and aerospace manufacturing and production facility in the world, is the result of a $54-million bond issue passed by voters and more than $50 million in renovations by the Air Force.

Tinker is also home to six major Department of Defense, Air Force and Navy activities with critical national defense missions. In recent years, several new state of-the-art facilities have come to fruition, demonstrating once again the incredible partnership among officials, citizens and corporations statewide.

Read more here about the Mike Monroney Aeronautical Center and the Will Rogers World Airport.  Story and photo courtesy of the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber. 

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