4 MIN. READ
The Wright Brothers' original plane contained only seven major pieces. Many of those same parts still exist in today’s aircraft, such as the rudder, wings and fuselage. Aircraft manufacturing processes have added quite a few parts as flight developed over the years. In fact, a Boeing 747-8 needs about 6 million parts!
Each piece of the modern-day aircraft needs special parts manufacturers and assemblers. Engine manufacturing alone has several sub-sectors, each focusing on its own area.
Of course, today’s flights need to last longer than a few seconds and hold up against altitudes far greater than a few hundred feet. They also carry both passengers and cargo. Indeed, the growth of aircraft manufacturing has more than met its challenges!
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With its large database of US manufacturers and suppliers, MNI recently studied the aircraft manufacturing industry. It found 224 major companies nationwide, which employ 180,957 people, up 15.5% from December 2022.
Sixteen percent of major US aircraft manufacturers import their raw materials. They also sell 68% of their final product overseas.
The manufacturing sector as a whole only imports 11% of its raw materials. Likewise, it only sells 29% of its final product overseas.
Regionally, 35% of all major US aircraft manufacturing companies are in the West. The South holds another 32% of the companies. The Midwest claims 26% of the manufacturers, and the Northeast trails with only 7%.
|Number of Employees
|Boeing Commercial Airplane Co.
|Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co.
|The Boeing Co.
|The Boeing Co.
|Gulfstream Aerospace Corp.
|General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc.
|Sikorsky, A Lockheed Martin Co.
|Boeing Commercial Airplanes
|Lockheed Martin Space Systems Co.
|Textron Aviation, Inc.
1. Boeing Commercial Airplane Co. in Everett, Washington has the largest manufacturing site in the world. Employing 30,000 individuals, it opened in 1967 to manufacture 747s. Since then it has grown to encompass 98.7 acres, and is the world’s largest building in terms of volume.
2. Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co. in Fort Worth, Texas has a workforce of 16,400. Lockheed Martin never forgot its small-town roots. The company supports its smaller manufacturers with accelerated payments.
3. The Boeing Co. in St. Louis, Missouri employs 16,000 workers. The Boeing Co. is America’s largest manufacturing exporter, and the St. Louis site houses the Prologue Room. This museum showcases pioneers in aviation and their achievements.
4. The Boeing Co. in Renton, Washington employs 12,000 workers, ranking fourth in the industry. This Boeing location is a significant site in the global aerospace industry, renowned for its production of commercial airplanes, defense products, and space systems. The Renton site has a rich history dating back to World War II and continues to be a hub of innovation and production in the aerospace industry, contributing to Boeing’s presence in more than 150 countries.
5. Gulfstream Aerospace Corp. is located in Savannah, Georgia. Its 9,638 employees build and service high-end privately-owned aircraft. The company’s close attention to customer service includes more factory-owned service centers than any other aircraft manufacturer.
6. General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. in Poway, California started as a part of General Dynamics in 1954. The 8+ million square-foot site houses 9,000 workers. They manufacture unmanned aircraft, power changing systems and remote viewing products.
7. Sikorsky, A Lockheed Martin Co. in Stratford, Connecticut has led the world in helicopter manufacturing since 1923. Igor Sikorsky's invention remains a base for both military and non-military missions to this day. Currently, the company's 7,500 workers keep up Mr. Sikorsky’s vision.
8. Boeing Commercial Airplanes in North Charleston, South Carolina employs a crew of 7,000 to create the safest commercial flights. The company’s Confident Travel Initiative eases travelers' minds with cleaning and disinfecting routines.
9. Lockheed Martin Space Systems Co. in Littleton, Colorado and its 7,000 employees create the GPS systems that serve commercial and military clients. They also invented a shell that protects travelers in outer space.
10. Textron Aviation, Inc. in Wichita, Kansas manufactures Beechcraft, Cessna and Hawker aircraft. With a workforce of 5,400 employees, Textron Aviation customizes its planes to meet customer needs.
Further reading: 4 Trends in the Aircraft Parts Industry
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