Space Race
Western Global Airlines
Western Global


Since the dawn of the modern flight era, Louisiana has provided leadership in aerospace. The state’s contributions range from the first airmail route to the birth of Delta Airlines, the construction of NASA’s Saturn rockets, and the development of Space Launch System and crew capsule components in New Orleans for future NASA space missions.

In 2018, established aerospace companies – such as Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman – continued their success in Louisiana, while other aerospace firms also delivered new investment and jobs. The state received commitments to add 426 new direct jobs in aerospace as interest in Louisiana’s workforce, manufacturing and aviation assets grows. 

The state received commitments to add 426 new direct jobs.

“In Louisiana, our aerospace industry continues to grow with manufacturers, maintenance and repair facilities, industrial air transport companies, and our flagship NASA manufacturing site at Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans,” said Gov. John Bel Edwards, in announcing the arrival of Western Global Airlines in Shreveport during 2018. 

MetroShop helicopter being assembledMetro Aviation Inc., which employs 150 aviation professionals at its Shreveport headquarters and 900 nationwide, announced in February 2018 that it will purchase and customize 25 new Airbus EC145 helicopters for air medical transport customers. In recent years, support from Louisiana’s Industrial Tax Exemption Program has helped Metro Aviation invest more than $10 million in facility and flight simulator improvements at the company’s Shreveport flight training center, including the most advanced flight simulator in North America for EC145 helicopters.

Switzerland-based Kopter Group AG announced in March 2019 it will assemble its new SH09 helicopters in Lafayette for customers throughout the Western Hemisphere. Kopter is investing $4.5 million to expand and upgrade the helicopter assembly facility it is leasing at Lafayette Regional Airport. The project will create 120 new direct jobs with an average annual salary of $55,000, plus benefits, and will result in another 157 new indirect jobs, for a total of more than 275 jobs for Louisiana’s Acadiana Region.

In May 2018, Citadel Completions announced a $17.6 million capital investment and the creation of 256 new direct jobs at Chennault International Airport in Lake Charles. There, Citadel will install custom-designed, engineered and manufactured interior modifications on larger aircraft, including Boeing and Airbus jets, for VIP and VVIP customers. Direct jobs will average $80,000 per year, plus benefits, while Louisiana Economic Development estimates the project will result in another 347 new indirect jobs for a total of more than 600 jobs in Southwest Louisiana.

Another Shreveport project will bring maintenance, repair and overhaul – or MRO aerospace activity – to the Shreveport Regional Airport. In May 2018, Florida-based Western Global Airlines announced it will create 170 direct jobs and make $3 million in tooling and equipment improvements at the airport’s 152,000-square-foot Hangar 40. LED estimates Western Global’s project will result in an additional 308 new indirect jobs, for a total of more than 475 new jobs in Northwest Louisiana. Company operations there will maintain an all-cargo fleet of 16 Boeing 747 and McDonnel Douglas MD-11 wide-body aircraft.

Man operating flight simulatorAt NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans, Boeing continues its development of the Space Launch System while Lockheed Martin leads development of the Orion crew capsule that will lead manned space flights to the moon and Mars. Those projects top a roster of 20 tenants in aerospace, advanced manufacturing, government and defense sectors at the 832-acre Michoud site.

Leading Louisiana aerospace companies also include Arrow Aviation, Aviation Exteriors Louisiana, Bristow Group, Era Group Inc., K&B Industries, Landlocked Aviation Services, Northrop Grumman, PHI Inc., RLC, Haynes International and more that combine to provide thousands of career opportunities in the state’s aerospace sector.

“Our infrastructure and expertise bring us projects from around the world,” says Bob Fudickar, NASA’s director of business development at Michoud Assembly Facility. “The concentration of assets and knowledge in aerospace in this area is huge.”  

“Our infrastructure and expertise bring us projects from around the world. The concentration of assets and knowledge in aerospace in this area is huge.”
Bob Fudickar
Director of Business Development at NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility