Metro Denver’s aviation industry is taking flight

The Metro Denver region ranks 14th among the nation's 50 largest metro areas for aviation employment concentration in 2016, directly employing 18,470 workers. The industry cluster includes companies that manufacture aircraft and provide air transportation services, with Denver International Airport (DEN) serving as the major economic engine for the region’s aviation industry. DEN added several domestic and international airlines in 2016, providing service to 181 destinations worldwide.

Metro Denver Aviation Employment Snapshot U.S. data in ( )
Direct Employment 18,470
Companies 630
Five-Year Employment Growth (2011-2016) 22.4% (5%)
One-Year Employment Growth (2016) 4.6% (1.8%)
Direct Employment Concentration (2016) 0.8% (0.6%)
Average Wage $60,520
Employment Concentration Ranking 14

The region is a top aviation location, offering:

  1. A prime air transportation location

    The nine-county region’s central U.S. location allows convenient access as air travelers can easily reach two-thirds of the nation within two hours, and is within fours hours flying time of every North American city with a population of 1 million or more. Further, Denver International Airport (DEN) was the sixth-busiest airport in the nation and 19th-busiest worldwide in terms of passenger traffic in 2015. (U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics, 2016; Airports Council International, 2016; and Denver International Airport, 2016)

  2. Low overall costs of doing business

    To promote aviation growth in the state, aircraft manufacturers or companies that are involved in the maintenance and repair, completion, or modification of aircraft located in aviation development zones can qualify for a state income tax credit of $1,200 per new employee in tax years between 2006 and 2023. (Colorado Department of Revenue)

  3. Access to aviation-related training programs

    The Aviation and Aerospace Science Department at Metropolitan State University of Denver (MSUD) is one of the largest and most advanced collegiate aviation programs in the country with programs tailored to meet workforce demands, and home to the state-of-the-art Robert K. Mock World Indoor Airport and Advanced Aviation and Aerospace Flight Simulation Training Lab. Further, MSUD’s Precision Flight Team has been recognized as one of the top collegiate aviation programs in the United States.

    Opening in 2017, MSUD’s new Aerospace and Engineering Sciences Building will revolutionize aerospace and advanced manufacturing education in Colorado by integrating aviation and aerospace-related programs into a state-of-the-art facility for training workers skilled in advanced aerospace design, manufacturing, and assembly.(Metropolitan State University of Denver, 2016)

The nine-county region is at the forefront of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) development and deployment with a vibrant base of commercial and military UAS activities. Metro Denver’s UAS industry benefits from close proximity to high altitude test sites which afford access to mountainous terrain, agriculture, valleys, and rivers. These include the Chaffee County UAS test area, and an 8,000-square-mile air space in the San Luis Valley where testing can be conducted to heights of up to 15,000 feet.

Supporting the aviation industry is the Metro Denver Aviation Coalition (MDAC) – an advocate for DEN and Metro Denver's three reliever airports (Centennial, Front Range, and Rocky Mountain Metropolitan). The MDAC promotes public policy conducive to economic development, and serves as a public and private sector proponent of job growth, DEN international route expansion and retention, infrastructure development, and on-site and airport adjacent development.