Metro Denver’s aviation industry is taking flight

Aviation was the nine-county region’s fastest growing cluster in 2017, posting 5.7 percent employment growth between 2016 and 2017, compared with a 0.1 percent increase nationwide. Employment in the region’s aviation cluster grew for the sixth-consecutive year in 2017. The nine-county region is home to 20,140 aviation employees in close to 680 companies. Between 2012 and 2017, aviation employment rose 23.1 percent, compared with 4.1 percent nationally. 

Metro Denver Aviation Employment Snapshot U.S. data in ( )
Direct Employment 20,140
Companies 680
Five-Year Employment Growth (2012-2017) 23.1% (4.1%)
One-Year Employment Growth (2017) 5.7% (0.1%)
Direct Employment Concentration (2017) 0.9% (0.6%)
Average Wage $66,880
Employment Concentration Ranking 13

The region is a top aviation location, offering:

  1. A prime air transportation location

    The nine-county Metro Denver and Northern Colorado region’s airport system is a strong economic engine, with a regional impact of nearly $28 billion and supporting more than 195,750 jobs in all industries. Denver International Airport (DEN) is one of the world’s busiest hubs and is responsible for $26 billion of the $28 billion impact in the region. In addition to DEN, three reliever airports and five general aviation airports facilitate commerce, create employment opportunities, and help maintain the state’s outstanding quality of life.

  2. Low overall costs of doing business
    • Colorado ranks as one of the nation’s most favorable corporate income tax structures. The state’s corporate income tax rate of 4.63 percent is one of the lowest in the nation and is based on single-factor apportionment, which allows companies to pay taxes based solely on their sales in the state. (State of Colorado; The Tax Foundation)
    • 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 full-time employee. (Colorado Department of Revenue)
    • Colorado provides sales and use tax exemptions for on-demand air carriers and eligible aircraft that on-demand air carriers utilize only for the purpose of final assembly, maintenance, modification, or completion of the aircraft manufacturing process. (Exemption clarified in Colorado House Bill 14-1374)
  3. Access to aviation-related training programs

    • The Aviation and Aerospace Science Department at Metropolitan State University of Denver (MSU Denver) is one of the largest and most advanced collegiate aviation programs in the country. The Robert K. Mock World Indoor Airport, located on campus, is one of the world’s premier collegiate aviation and aerospace computer and flight simulation training laboratories.
    • The nine-county region offers more than 20 flight training schools at Boulder Municipal Airport, Centennial Airport, Erie Municipal Airport, Northern Colorado Regional Airport, Front Range Airport, and Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport. These schools provide pilot training, aviation instruction, and certification programs. (Metropolitan State University of Denver, 2017)

The nine-county region is a thriving international hub in the unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) community. The region is home to a unique concentration of UAS business and technical capabilities, including industry-leading remote sensing and data analytics products, innovative airframes, and exceptional service provider and ground control systems expertise. Extensive state supported and FAA-approved UAS test, training, and research facilities provide a world-class business environment and have contributed to the state’s leading position for the number of UAS operators per capita. Colorado is one of the few global locations offering unique features vital to UAS development including more than 35,000 square miles of FAA-approved UAS operation areas. 

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.