Aviation is Taking Flight in West Virginia with Help from the West Virginia Economic Development Authority (WVEDA)

In North Central West Virginia and all over the state, a booming industry continues to grow. “Aviation is exploding in this area, and people don’t really realize it,” said Chris Westfall, Director of Maintenance at NorthStar Technologies. NorthStar is an aviation company in Bridgeport that gets their client’s engines back in the air whether working in their facility or out in the field at airports. How did West Virginia become the epicenter of this aviation industry growth in the region? Well, it’s got very little to do with luck and everything to do with policy, industry, and education.

A recently conducted Deloitte study found that the state has a number of unique assets that could make it a leader in Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) for years to come. The study highlights the state’s centrally located position that can benefit almost any industry, but also the state’s strong positions on policy, funding opportunities, and infrastructure developments like ongoing broadband expansion.

The promise of a fully realized aviation sector will take continued innovation by industry to solve problems. “Right now what the county is seeing, what the whole world is seeing, is it’s hard to get a hold of hard to get parts,” said Westfall. “A lot of the aircrafts in the industry right now, they can’t afford to set weeks, months, or sometimes even years waiting on a specific part.” The WVEDA helped NorthStar acquire their clean line and FPI line which cleans parts for inspection and inspects the parts for cracks, respectively. They were able to purchase welders and mills to build their own specialized tooling in some situations. 

These tools require capable hands to work. With a degree that can be earned in 24 months or less, you can essentially guarantee yourself a high paying position as a technician in the industry. One of the many assets West Virginia has is a strong ecosystem including many education and training programs.  “All of our employees we’ve hired, we’ve hired within West Virginia and a lot of them here local” said Westfall. “They have more heart than a lot of industries outside of West Virginia. They come to work, they want to produce a good product, and they care about their customer.”

Innovations in transportation of people and goods open up so many opportunities for our communities whether it’s commuting and travel or any level of logistics. The simultaneous investment from educators, industry, and government has already borne fruit, but the potential of a fully realized aviation industry is thousands of opportunities for the workforce of West Virginia.