New Study Shows UAS Integration Could Net Oklahoma Nearly 600 New Jobs in First Three Years

Hundreds, and Perhaps Thousands, More Jobs Could Come to Oklahoma by 2025

OKLAHOMA CITY – Governor Mary Fallin, Secretary of Science and Technology Stephen McKeever and Michael Toscano, president & CEO of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI), today unveiled new economic data which finds Oklahoma is poised to create nearly 600 new jobs in the first three years following the integration of Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) into U.S. airspace. Meanwhile, beyond the first three years, Oklahoma stands to capture hundreds, and perhaps thousands, of additional new jobs by 2025.

The data come from a forthcoming AUVSI-commissioned study examining the national and state-by-state economic impact and job creation potential resulting from the UAS integration into national airspace, which is expected to occur by 2015.

“UAS represents one of the fastest-growing segments of the aerospace industry, which already is an important part of the Oklahoma economy,” Fallin said. “We are taking the steps necessary to create an environment conducive to job creation and investment that also positions Oklahoma as a national leader in the advancement of UAS technology. We’re excited the data from AUVSI’s economic impact report show Oklahoma is poised to add hundreds of jobs and see millions of dollars in economic impact as UAS is integrated into the national airspace.”

Fallin created the Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) Council in 2011, which has since produced a strategic roadmap to help make Oklahoma the “go-to” place for UAS research, development and testing.

“Oklahoma is positioning itself to be a hub for innovation and growth in the UAS field by building strong academic R&D programs at our state universities and by establishing leading Test and Evaluation facilities and infrastructures through public-private partnerships. New technologies, capabilities and an educated and experienced workforce are the result,” said Dr. Stephen McKeever, Oklahoma Secretary of Science and Technology.

“Under Governor Fallin’s leadership, Oklahoma is well-positioned to reap the economic benefits that will come along with the expanded use of UAS technology,” said Michael Toscano. “Oklahoma has the infrastructure in place to support the development of UAS technology, as well as several industries – such as agriculture and the oil and gas industry – that could one day benefit from the technology. Moving UAS technology forward can improve our quality of life while creating high-quality American jobs, especially right here in Oklahoma.”

Specifically, the study finds:

  • Based on the current UAS activity in Oklahoma, the state is projected to create 593 new jobs in the first three years – from 2015 to 2017 – following the integration of UAS into the U.S. airspace. This number includes both direct and indirect manufacturing jobs.
  • Over those same three years – from 2015 to 2017 – the total economic impact to the state is projected to be $57.6 million. Economic impact includes the monies that flow to manufacturers and suppliers from the sale of new products as well as the taxes and monies that flow into communities and support the local businesses.
  • Oklahoma is poised to add hundreds, and perhaps thousands, of additional new jobs by 2025. That’s because the study projects there will be 105,685 new jobs nationally by 2025 as a result of the integration, and many of these jobs are portable. They aren’t committed or tied to any particular state.
  • Future events – such as the establishment of test sites and the adoption of UAS technology by end users – will ultimately determine where many of these new jobs flow from 2017 to 2025.

Oklahoma’s aerospace industry and infrastructure, including restricted airspace, companies already developing UAS technology and research institutions, strongly position the state to capture additional jobs beyond 2017. Also, Oklahoma’s top industries – including agriculture and oil and gas – are expected to be among the biggest end users of UAS technology. As these industries adopt and deploy UAS in the state, more new jobs could follow.

Across the country, the agriculture sector is expected to be the largest market for UAS technology, the AUVSI study finds. UAS will allow farmers to more efficiently monitor crops and distribute pesticides, which could help improve efficiency among the state’s 86,000 farms and maintain the state’s position as a national leader in wheat production. The oil and gas industry is another industry that sees tremendous potential for using UAS technology. Many major oil companies have expressed interest in using UAS to more efficiently survey pipelines, drilling rigs and other critical infrastructure.

Oklahoma has been a national leader in UAS advancement. Last year, the Department of Homeland Security selected Fort Sill to test small UAS for public safety purposes such as search and rescue and disaster response.

“The fact that companies from around the country have come to Oklahoma to test their technologies shows the potential return on Oklahoma’s investment in UAS infrastructure,” said Toscano.

The economic data revealed today represent the preliminary findings of the AUVSI economic impact study, which will be finalized in the coming weeks. The report was commissioned by AUVSI and developed by Darryl Jenkins, a past professor at George Washington University and Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, and an aviation industry economist with more than 30 years of experience. Mr. Jenkins is the author of the Handbook of Airline Economics and previously served as the director of the Aviation Institute at George Washington University in Washington, DC.