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Aerospace Industry
The U.S. aerospace industry's wide-ranging activities include commercial aviation, national security, and space exploration.

SelectUSA Aerospace Industry

Industry Overview

The U.S. aerospace industry is the largest in the world and offers a skilled and educated workforce, extensive distribution systems, diverse offerings, and strong support at the local and national level for policy and promotion. At the end of 2019, foreign direct investment (FDI) into the U.S. aerospace industry totaled nearly $21 billion and majority foreign-owned U.S. affiliates in the aerospace industry supported over 66,000 jobs. 

In the United States, the aerospace industry employs about 521,000 workers in a variety of occupations. The share of employment from FDI in this industry is about 12.7 percent. The annual mean wage across all occupations in the aerospace industry is $85,730. Engineers are the most prominent occupation in this industry with over 96,000 workers and an average annual wage of $110,850. Assemblers and fabricators are the second most prominent occupation in this industry with over 61,000 employed, earning an average annual wage of $53,230. The third occupation with the most workers in this industry is Business Operations Specialists, with about 49,000 workers employed earning $91,680 on average, annually.

Industry Subsectors

This U.S. industry comprises establishments primarily engaged in manufacturing or assembling complete aircraft, developing and making aircraft prototypes, aircraft conversion (i.e., major modifications to systems), or complete aircraft overhaul and rebuilding (i.e., periodic restoration of aircraft to original design specifications). This subsector also includes blimps, gliders, helicopters, target drones, and unmanned and robotic aircraft manufacturing. There were 317 establishments in this subsector as of 2017, and the latest employment figures in 2020 estimate 219,200 workers.


The U.S. rotorcraft industry is diverse with the bulk of new deliveries arriving from mature production lines. The market encompasses military, emergency medical service (EMS) providers, offshore oil and gas exploration, and law enforcement applications.


The companies in the U.S. commercial space market are major suppliers to U.S. Government programs, where demand has remained stable during the commercial aerospace and global economic downturns.


Major engine and power plant manufacturers are typically part of diversified corporations producing engines for both civil and military aircraft, either alone or as part of one or more joint ventures. Engines and power plant sales also provide maintenance, repair and overhaul business opportunities. There were 410 establishments in this industry as of 2017, and the latest employment figures in 2020 estimate 77,700 workers in the industry.


As of April 2020, the Department of Transportation reported an active global UAS fleet of approximately 1.7 million drones and projected that number to grow to 2.2 million by 2023.  The FAA’s February 2021 update of current U.S. drone activity lists 381,000 commercial drone registrations, 491,000 recreational drone registrations, and 212,000 remote pilot certifications.  The continued growth in deployed platforms and certified pilots (combined with the ever expanding regulatory framework and operational and technical standards for UAS as well as the commitment of resources for UAS research at the local, state, and federal levels) exemplify the expanding level of demand for UAS in the United States.


Airport infrastructure and aviation security markets continue to grow both in the United States and abroad. While the FAA has completed installation of its satellite navigation ground stations, work continues to re-design airspace and FAA procedures. As air traffic management moves to greater reliance on data communications, the focus in aviation security has shifted from countermeasures to physical threats to containment and mitigation of cybersecurity threats. The growing presence of unmanned aircraft systems has helped to increase the importance of cybersecurity measures, given the dangers of loss of control and pirated data. 


Alternative fuels in the aviation sector continue to be of interest due to the historic price volatility of traditional jet fuel and to concerns about the effect of aviation on the environment. The United States is a leader in alternative aviation fuel research and development, and U.S. producers have successfully completed test flights using fuels from a variety of feedstock. These fuel producers are actively seeking investment as they move towards commercial production. Multiple U.S. agencies collaborated to produce the Federal Alternative Jet Fuels Research and Development Strategy, which was finalized and submitted to the White House in June 2015.


The United States has a robust aerospace supply chain with capabilities in maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO), composites, metal-working, avionics, testing equipment, and coatings. U.S.-based suppliers are highly sought-after partners for aerospace manufacturing programs at home and abroad.

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Industry Factsheet

Explore the impact of foreign direct investment on U.S. jobs, exports, and innovation in the aerospace industry.

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Investor Guide

The Investor Guide is a high-level view of everything from taxes to immigration and workforce to business structure.

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SelectUSA Stats

SelectUSA has created several dashboards to help analyze key FDI data from a variety of sources.

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Industry Associations
A comprehensive list of associations in the aerospace industry.
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Browse this state incentives database developed by the Council for Community and Economic Research (C2ER).
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