Although most manufacturing of aviation components and kits is centered on or near public-use airports (like those in Portland, Scappoose, Aurora, Redmond, and Bend), supply-chain and distribution firms exist in at least 15 Oregon communities in both urban and rural areas. They produce or manufacture for avionics, airplane components and assembly, raw material for fabrication, and unique components for specialty aircraft like the “Alaskan Bushwheel.” Aviation customers include individual purchasers as well as major airframe manufacturers in other states (e.g. Cessna Aircraft in Kansas). Oregon’s kit plane manufacturers also provide over 70 percent of all of the kit planes sold within the U.S. each year to global customers. This industry cluster also includes businesses providing local fabrication services, which has led to robust maintenance and repair services for all sizes of aircraft, including balloons and forest-fire fighting airframes. Key competitors for Oregon’s aviation industry include international manufacturers in Brazil, the Czech Republic, Canada and Mexico.Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) now called by the FAA Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) is a major new growth sector. Oregon has a major foothold in this industry at Hood River, The Dalles, and other nearby cities in the Columbia River Gorge.
Cluster Components and Companies
Experimental and sport aircraft manufacturing; heavy lift helicopter maintenance; historic aircraft maintenance; avionics design and manufacturing; aviation related military equipment; aerial photography, radar, lidar, and other hi-tech sensing systems; airport information systems; general flight training; international ab initio flight training; flight service companies; industrial and residential airparks, avionics software, and specialty metals casting.
Notable companies include: Vans Aircraft (Aurora Airport); Sky Research (Ashland Airport); Hillsboro Aviation (Hillsboro Airport); Western Antique Aeroplane and Automobile Museum (Hood River Airport); Oregon Aero (Scappoose Airport). Oregon’s Aviation cluster includes the heavy lift helicopter industry, which is comprised of Columbia Helicopters (Aurora Airport), Evergreen Helicopters, Helicopter Transport Services, Croman Corporation, Erickson Air-Crane, Superior Helicopters, and Carson Helicopters.
Aviation by the Numbers
Overall, the Oregon Aviation Cluster consists of:
- Over 300 aviation companies
- Aviation companies in 78 Oregon cities (nearly 1/3 of all incorporated Oregon cities)
- The ares with the most Aviation Cluster companies, listed in order of the number companies, includes: Portland/METRO (Multnomah, Washington, Clackamas), Mid-Willamette Valley (Yamhill, Marion, Polk Counties), Central Oregon (Deschutes County), Southern Oregon (Jackson & Josephine Counties), South Willamette Valley (Linn, Lane, Benton Counties)