High Desert Aviation Industry Soars
The air transport industry supports 63 million jobs globally, directly creates ten million jobs worldwide, airlines, airports and air navigation service providers employ 8.4 million people and another 11.1 million indirect jobs are created via purchases of goods and services from companies in the air transport supply chain. And the High Desert is playing their part in furthering the industry.
The list of aviation-related companies based in Central Oregon continues to grow. A brief survey by Cascade Business News now lists nearly 30 companies offering helicopter transport, aerial firefighting, air charter services and maintenance, flight schools and recovery training, manufacturing of experimental, owner-built, glider and turboprop aircraft, fuel level measurements and detection systems, welding, fabrication, research and product design.
Employing nearly 1,000 people locally in various aspects of aviation development and training, these companies make a secure industry cluster of economic opportunities.
In addition to aviation companies there are six airports that service the region including the Redmond Municipal Airport, Bend Municipal Airport, Prineville Airport — Cook County, Sisters Eagle Airport, Madras Municipal Airport and the Sunriver Resort Airport.
The Redmond Airport (RDM) serves as the region’s base for commercial air carriers and general aviation clients with highly valued services, infrastructure and facilities. Over the years numerous upgrades and improvements have maintained the airport as a state-of-art facility including the recent Runway 4-22 project, an $18 million multi-phase rehabilitation of Redmond’s primary runway. As the only commercial airport for approximately 135 miles, RDM is a key player in the region’s economy and a gateway for tourists visiting Central Oregon.
Planning to offer scenic tours in spring 2017 Butler Aircraft Services, based at the Redmond Airport, says it has been an exciting year for the company becoming the 5th CAA Preferred FBO in the State of Oregon and the only CAA Preferred FBO on the eastside of the Cascades — the designation will bring more traffic and customers from general aviation to corporate aircraft to Butler Aircraft Services and to Robert’s Field.
The Bend Municipal Airport is host to several aviation companies including Leading Edge Aviation that recently formed a partnership with Big Mountain Heli Tours to increase the helicopter sightseeing service Leading Edge has offered for years on a limited basis. Leading Edge has several business segments growing to 80 employees including commercial helicopter operations, airplane and helicopter flight training, avionics, maintenance, Robinson Helicopter overhaul and wiring harness fabrication and fuel services. Along with the new heli tours this year the company opened Leading Edge Jet Center at Redmond Municipal Airport. The Center is a fixed base operator providing 100LL and Jet A fuel to charter and commercial aircraft, as well as certified avionics and maintenance services.
Business Air of Denton, Texas arrived at the Bend Airport in June 2015 offering on-demand charter services. that allow business professionals and leisure travelers flexibility in scheduling flights. In September the company received FAA authorization to accommodate larger cabin aircraft for 10 or more passengers. Business Air’s expansion to Bend seems to be a favorable step with the charter business experiencing growth year-over-year.
Precise Flight, Inc. in Bend is focusing on continued growth through diversification and new products. Precise Flight is a supplier of advanced technology to the aviation industry including lighting, oxygen and electromechanical technologies. In 2017 Precise Flight will introduce a new portable multi-port oxygen system designed for emergency medical response teams and disaster response teams. The company sees broad market opportunities for its products.
A little known aviation based company in Bend, CV International, has grown to 26 employees and offers another side of the aviation industry ranging from nitrogen generators, contaminated fuel detection systems, cryogenic sampling kits, nitrogen servicing carts, jacking systems to custom designed aviation maintenance platforms. The company just received a long-term NATO contract for the KC-135 Aircraft with estimated value $20 million. CV expects steady growth with its custom aircraft systems supporting aviation as well as wind energy and food processing.
Epic Aircraft, growing from 180 to 215 employees (tripling since 2014), produces high performance, all carbon fiber, single-engine turboprop aircraft. Lots of hot news for Epic from securing 70 reservations for its certified E1000 airplane and increasing manufacturing facility to over 300,000 square feet. But the big news was this past August when it completed its inaugural Odyssey World Tour. The 21-day, 21-city journey concluded with the six participating aircraft flying inline to celebrate their successful circumnavigation of the globe. The 26-person Odyssey team was comprised of Epic owners and guests, Epic staff, professional pilots and a documentary film crew.
At the sisters Eagle Airport you’ll find Innoviator Flight Science, a highly concentrated, yet full spectrum aerospace/engineering team who have completed over 20,000 repairs and 100 STC’s. The company, with 11 employees, reports ten years of slow but positive growth, working with the world’s leading airlines, completion centers, commercial/missionized equipment integrators, aircraft operators and manufacturers.
Kawak Aviation Technologies says it is growing and on the fast track! It’s skills and products are varied: mission equipment supplier in helicopter firefighting systems, aerial agriculture, propulsion systems, motion control, flight control products, auxiliary power and precision agriculture power systems.
Kawak reports its mission is to continually provide the aviation industry with innovative, high quality solutions that improve safety and increase the productivity potential of customers and their aircraft. With this in mind and a growing workforce Kawak is looking for talent in design, engineering, project management and sales. Good news for innovative people wanting to move to Central Oregon!
Gwil Evans of Professional Air has a simple message for opportunities in the aviation industry: consider a career where the number of jobs exponentially outnumbers the available candidates. This could be the one career choice you can truly bank on in the coming decades.
The Boeing Company estimates that between now and 2034, the industry will need over 550,000 new commercial pilots, with the shortage hitting its peak in 2027. That translates into more than 30,000 new jobs each year, far greater than the current pilot pipeline can support according to Gwil.
The aviation industry desperately needs to find new ways to attract young people into the profession and efficiently transform them into qualified commercial aviators in order to meet the growing worldwide demand for air travel.
Opportunities for employment, innovation and economic development in the aviation industry are souring high in Central Oregon!