Aerospace innovators have discovered that there is a place for them in central North Carolina at the Piedmont Triad International Airport, where the airport and government leaders have laid out a welcome mat for fresh thinking and new ideas.
“We want our airport to become known as the place where big ideas in aerospace come to be proven, to be executed and adapted into the national aviation system,” says Kevin Baker, PTI’s executive director. “We want to lead, not follow.”
The latest entry into the airport’s stable of innovators is Boom Supersonic, the ambitious project that promises to put supersonic passenger jets back into service by 2029, with an affordable ticket price and a zero-carbon footprint.
Boom Supersonic broke ground in January on its first manufacturing plant, which will be located on 62 acres on the PTI campus. The manufacturing facility will include a final assembly line, a test facility, and a customer delivery center. Overture, the first production aircraft, is expected to debut in 2026, with production at PTI beginning in 2029.
The company expects to employ 2,400 people by 2032 in the 174,000-square-foot hangar. The company already has orders for 130 aircraft from companies such as American Airlines, United Airlines, and Japan Airlines. Boom is also working on government and defense applications for the supersonic airliner.
Boom is not the first time the airport has nurtured innovation. Honda pioneered a radical new design at PTI for an ultralight business aircraft with engines that rode on top of the wings rather than underneath. Honda Jet, that aircraft, has now become a reality and is one of the best-selling aircraft of its type on the market today.
The Honda Aircraft Company was born and ultimately decided to locate its world headquarters at PTI, complete with administrative offices, a manufacturing plant, and maintenance and repair facilities. Honda manufactures engines for the Honda Jet a short distance away in Burlington, NC.
With a central East Coast location, close proximity to a network of Interstate highways, and nearly 1,000 acres ready for industrial development, the airport has proven attractive to all aspects of the aerospace industry – manufacturing, cargo, and maintenance and repair.
The airport is home to FedEx's Greensboro hub, HAECO Americas, one of the world's largest maintenance and repair organizations, and Cessna/Textron's Mid-Atlantic maintenance facility. It has recently been announced that Marshall Aerospace, a British company, will construct an aircraft maintenance and repair facility at the airport.
Altogether, about 50 companies are located on airport property and taken together employ nearly 9,000 people. A supply-chain network of nearly 200 aerospace companies has located in the Piedmont Triad region near the airport providing even more aerospace jobs.
Thanks to the vision of past airport leadership, there is room for more companies to locate at PTI. The airport has assembled a 1,000-acre, aerospace “mega-site” to accommodate a new wave of growth. Several of those parcels have been graded, have Interstate and runway access, and are ready for development.
“Vision and foresight are part of this airport’s DNA,” Baker said. “It’s only natural that we appreciate those qualities in others.”