Building on History to Become
The Epicenter of The Americas

One of Miami’s most well-established industry sectors, aviation has deep roots in Miami-Dade. The Wright Brothers performed stunts in 1911 and aviation pioneer Glenn Curtis opened a flight school in Miami Beach in 1912, one of the first in the nation.  The nation’s first modern passenger terminal opened at Pan American Field in Miami in September 1928. It was the first airport on the East Coast with a Customs entry station. It was officially named Miami International Airport in 1948.

Today, MIA is one the world’s busiest hubs for domestic and international air travelers and cargo. It boasts more flights to Latin America and the Caribbean than any other U.S. airport, as well as direct connections to Canada, Mexico, Europe and the Middle East. MIA is served by over 100 airlines and hosted over 44 million passengers. It is #2 in international passengers and #1 busiest US airport for international freight with a network of more than 300 freight forwarders and customs brokers, and supported by a one-stop Cargo Clearance Center with 24-hour service.

Industry Overview

Number of Companies494
Number of Employees26,184
Average Annual Salary$88,109

Industry Subsectors & Data

2017 Establishments
2018 Jobs
Avg. Earnings Per Job
Aircraft Manufacturing
Aircraft Engine and Engine Parts Manufacturing
Other Aircraft Parts and Auxiliary Equipment Manufacturing
Scheduled Freight Air Transportation
Nonscheduled Chartered Passenger Air Transportation
Nonscheduled Chartered Freight Air Transportation
Other Airport Operations
Other Support Activities for Air Transportation
Flight Training

Miami-Dade’s aviation industry has four burgeoning niches that continue to grow and prosper:  1) Maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO), 2) Flight simulator training, 3) Parts distribution and 4) Pharma Hub

The culture of MRO providers, opening their businesses in Miami-Dade County, began many years ago, when MIA was the home base for major airlines like Eastern and Pan Am. Some of the most talented mechanics and technicians in the industry came here to the tropics to work and never left. Many of them added to Miami-Dade’s aviation industry’s resources by opening their own small local shops.

From those beginnings, Miami-Dade’s aeronautical educational ecosystem has developed and evolved to support the industry needs.  Maintenance training can begin in high school. The George T.  Baker Aviation School has been around since 1958 and is operated by Miami-Dade Public Schools. There is the Eig-Watson School of Aviation at Miami Dade College; Florida Memorial University’s Department of Aviation and Safety and Embry–Riddle Aeronautical University Miami Campus.

Miami-Dade has attracted leading aviation MRO (maintenance, repair, operations) providers from around the world due to the city’s access to international markets, creating one of the largest MRO cluster of companies in the US.   They include: AAR, Air France Industries, Satair, Meggitt, and home-grown HEICO.

Miami is  the home of the largest number of flight simulator facilities in the Americas.

  • Boeing’s 134,000 square foot facility in Miami-Dade County is the company’s largest flight simulator training center in their global network. It trains more than 4,500 students a year who come from all over the world with 17 full-flight simulators
  • Airbus has a 110,000-square foot flight simulation facility in Miami to train A320, A330, A340 and A350 pilots.
  • Franco/Italian aircraft manufacturer, ATR trains its pilots in Miami as well, The company just recently relocated its Americas headquarters from Virginia, to Miami, where its facility is equipped with a brand new Full Flight Simulator (FFS) for the ATR-600 series aircraft.
  • Additionally, Pan Am Flight Academy, now owned by All Nippon Airways, has been in Miami since 1980 and continues to provide training support for airlines and aviation professionals.
  • Major cargo airline Atlas also conducts its flight training operations in Miami

What does this mean to the local economy? Boeing estimates that its Training Center alone is responsible for 80,000 hotel room nights a year. At an average cost of $273 per day, these pilots in training generate more than $21.8 million to the Miami-Dade economy.

Parts distribution is one of Miami-Dade’s strongest industry subsectors. The community’s decades long aviation history combined with its central location, easy global access and strong logistics infrastructure, makes stocking and supplying parts and equipment for the aerospace industry a natural fit.  As an example, KLX Aerospace Solutions Group which chose Miami to be its global headquarters, has more than 1 million items in inventory, ships between 6,000 to 8,000 worldwide packages to customers every day. It employs 2,000 people in 65 locations around the world.

Other Aviation Parts Distributors that operate out of the Miami:

  • Air Parts and Supply Company
  • Tropical Aviation
  • Aviation Distributors

Miami International Airport is the only airport in the Western Hemisphere to be designated by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) as a Pharma Hub and only the second in the world (Brussels is the other). In 2015, MIA organized its logistics providers including airlines, ground handling companies and freight forwarders to undergo the CEIV program. MIA’s pharma trade has increased 62% to nearly $3 billion.

To maximize the opportunity, MIA launched a historic alliance with the Brussels Airport to create association to build a global network of airports dedicated to growing the international pharm industries.

“MIA has demonstrated great vision and leadership in encouraging CEIV certification for cargo operators,” said Nick Careen, IATA Senior Vice President, Airports, Passenger, Cargo and Security. “The airport’s commitment to CEIV Pharma is yet further proof of the importance of this certification scheme to raising standards and quality across the cold-chain freight network. By putting CEIV Pharma Certification at the heart of their operations, cargo stakeholders will ensure that Miami becomes a destination of choice for these high-value shipments.”

Major Employers

  •  American Airlines
  • Heico
  • KLX,
  • Meggitt,
  • Barfield
  • Airbus Americas
  • AAR Aircraft Services & Landing Gear
  • Boeing Flight Services

Industry-Focused Talent Development Programs

The One Community One Goal initiative emphasizes the importance of educational opportunity to drive successful economic development. Miami-Dade’s educational institutions have collaborated closely with local business leaders to create specific job- related curriculum and hands-on training for students to be successful in the local industries that have been identified for high growth, compelling career paths and higher than average wages.

Miami-Dade County Public Schools

-George T. Baker Aviation Technical College

What Industry Leaders Are Saying

“Florida continues to have a strong base of airline manufacturing, training and support services, including MRO facilities. “Looking ahead, new longer-range aircraft will allow for all kinds of new services and products here.”

-Alex de Gunten, Business Development Officer

Highlights Video

Meet Madeline Mesa

Aviation Industry Subject Matter Expert

Madeline Mesa, International Economic Development Director for Miami-Dade Beacon Council serving in this role since October 2019. Responsible for promoting Miami as a global business destination focused on increasing quality jobs and investments based on business growth….. View Bio

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