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Aerospace & Defense

Lift off from the middle

Kansas companies export $2.3 billion in aerospace products annually. This is nearly 20 percent of the state’s total exports. 

Air Capital of the World

$7 billion

contribution to KS GDP

$2.25 billion

in annual aerospace exports


largest concentration of aviation workers in U.S.

During the 1940s, Boeing’s B-29 Superfortresses rolled off Wichita’s assembly lines. In 1954, Wichita began producing the iconic B-52 bombers. Today, Kansas is home to a cluster of 450 supply chain companies who provide engineering and manufacturing support for our nation’s defense industrial base, and our workforce is well versed in the nuances of Department of Defense programs. Our military installations such as McConnell AFB, Ft. Riley, Ft. Leavenworth and Forbes Field are another fantastic source for creating a pipeline of experienced personnel to support key DOD programs. 

Kansas is home to two of the world’s premier general aviation aircraft manufacturers – Bombardier Learjet and Textron Aviation’s Beechcraft and Cessna.

Now, more than 110 years since the first plane was built in Kansas, the state remains a vibrant hub for aviation manufacturing, delivering approximately one-third of all general aviation planes built in the U.S. Kansas manufacturers leverage low operating costs, a highly skilled workforce and world-class research institutions to design and build some of the most iconic planes in the world.

In fact, Wichita – the largest city in Kansas – is recognized globally as the Air Capital of the World. This designation is largely based on the city’s rich history in the early days of aviation and the concentration of aviation and defense research, development and manufacturing located there today. 

Spirit AeroSystems, the world’s largest tier-one aerostructures manufacturer, calls Wichita, Kansas, home. 

Industry-aligned Education & Research Institutions

Perhaps no other state in the country offers the breadth and depth of education and training as Kansas. Kansas education and research institutions are well-known as some of the best in the world, providing students with real-world expertise and employers with direct access to an ascending pipeline of talent.

National Center for Aviation Training

The National Center for Aviation Training (NCAT) provides industry-driven training courses for the aviation manufacturing industry. NCAT gives students the opportunity to receive hands-on, real-world training in aviation manufacturing and aircraft and power plant mechanics.

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National Institute for Aviation Research

The National Institute for Aviation Research (NIAR) at Wichita State University is the largest applied aerospace research and development academic institution in the nation. NIAR provides research, design, testing, certification and training to industry, government agencies, educational entities and other clients. NIAR’s clients include Boeing, NASA, Spirit AeroSystems, the Federal Aviation Administration, Textron Aviation to name a few.

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WSU Innovation Campus

The Innovation Campus brings together industry expertise and Wichita State University’s research, commercialization and education capabilities. Several companies have located operations on the campus and conducted research in partnership with university engineers and scientists. The largest of these is Airbus, whose engineering center is the company’s most significant outside of Europe, with approximately 200 employees.

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Kansas State University Polytechnic

As one of the leading aviation universities in the country, Kansas State Polytechnic offers three instrument runways, labs, a state-of-the-art Canadair Regional Jet simulator, an operational dispatch center, an aviation maintenance training hangar and a nationally recognized unmanned aircraft systems program. Various degrees are offered in aviation maintenance management, professional pilot and unmanned aircraft systems.

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University of Kansas

The University of Kansas, the state’s largest university, offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in in aerospace engineering. The program is undergoing a rapid expansion of students and faculty, as well as research investment. Core research strengths include unmanned aerial systems, computational fluid dynamics, composite and adaptive structures, and robotics and control.

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#1 ranked college in industry-funded aerospace research – WSU 

Explore Kansas’ key industries and learn how you can be part of the next Kansas success story.

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