The state of Kansas is celebrating its Fourth Annual Aviation Day Event in Wichita. The annual event seeks to educate the public on the impact of the aviation industry while lobbying state officials for more favorable legislation to help expand the industry.
“It helps to keep them reminded of aviation and what it does,” said Dennis O’Connor manager of Federal and State Affairs with the Kentucky Department of Transportation.
The event also serves to showcase the impact of aviation and aerospace industry has on the Sunflower State. The promotion and organization of the celebration is a joint venture by the Kansas Department of Transportation Aviation Division and the Kansas Commission on Aerospace education.
“Be it through business aviation to help support commerce, be it through air ambulance support for medical services, be it through flight training and manufacturing,” said O’Connor.
Cessna Aircraft Company established its first manufacturing plant in the City of Wichita in the 1920s. Currently, more than half of world’s light aircraft and business jets are made in Wichita. The city is also home to Hawker Beechcraft Corporation, Boeing Integrated Defense Systems, Bombardier Learjet, and Spirit Aerosystems. Altogether, these companies employ nearly 45,000 local residents.
Kansas has seven commercial and 138 public airports. Overall, the aviation industry gives the state of Kansas an impressive $20 billion economic boost.
“As businesses may come and go, it doesn’t mean that aviation is going away or weakening in any respect,” O’Connor said. “There’s plenty that’s still happening in manufacturing, and on a number of other fronts, especially as we now develop the new front of unmanned aircraft systems and go forward in a whole new season of growth this year.”
O’Connor said that Kansas is anticipating and planning for the mass manufacturing of unmanned aircraft systems.
To this end, Robert Brock who served as the state’s director of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) has recently been named as interim director of the Aviation Division of the Kansas Department of Transportation.
“We are so fortunate at KDOT to have such a talented and passionate person like Bob Brock to take over aviation,” Secretary of Transportation Richard Carlson said. “After already serving the state and the agency in opening new doors for UAS, Brock is in the best possible position to make great strides for aviation in Kansas.”