November 22, 2011

Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick unveiled earlier this month a major economic impact study that shows public use airports in the Bay State generate nearly $12 billion in economic activity and support about 124,000 jobs. The Governor announced the results during a visit to New Bedford Regional airport, which is in the middle of a $17 million runway safety improvement project expected to be completed in 2013.

“Infrastructure investments just like these create jobs and improve public safety,” said Governor Patrick. “New Bedford Airport is one of many great examples of the importance of aviation facilities to our economic strength.”

The new study was completed by the Massachusetts Department of Transportation’s (MassDOT) Aeronautics Division with the assistance of the Federal Aviation Administration. It measured total economic impact of the 39 public-use airports in Massachusetts, including Boston Logan International. In addition to the $11.9 billion in economic activity generated by the airports and a direct payroll of $4.9 billion, the 124,000 jobs supported included those in general aviation (GA), emergency medical transport, law enforcement, military aviation and airline service.

Of the 39 airports in Massachusetts, only nine support commercial service.

The new study listed qualitative benefits of Massachusetts’ airports, including aerial surveying, photography, inspections and search and rescue operations. It included aircraft maintenance services, singling out the Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation’s service center at Westfield-Barnes Regional airport. “[This] service center plays a critical role in servicing business jet aircraft in the…New York and Boston metropolitan areas,” said the report.

MassDOT Aeronautics Division administrator Christopher Willenborg noted that future pilots were among the beneficiaries of the safety improvements, saying & “…this project in New Bedford will improve safety for all aviation users, including the Bridgewater State University flight instructors and the student pilots.” The University’s four-year Bachelors of Science in Aviation Management program was established in 1981 and has about 140 students currently enrolled.