Tulsa Aviation Industry Gets International Attention

Tuesday, April 26th 2011, 5:01 pm
By: News On 6

Dan Bewley, News On 6

TULSA, Oklahoma -- Tulsa's aviation industry is getting international attention this week. A dozen journalists from Europe and across the country are visiting Oklahoma this week.

Tuesday, they toured Tulsa's American Airlines Maintenance Base. State leaders want the world to know about aerospace in Oklahoma.

Lucia Angeloni is 5000 miles from home. She writes for an aviation magazine in Italy and is part of a group of 12 reporters getting an up close look at the American Airlines Maintenance Base in Tulsa.

"We would like to know the aerospace sector in Oklahoma because [it is] growing more and more," Angeloni said.

The journalists are in town this week at the invitation of the Oklahoma Department of Commerce.

"These reporters write about aerospace everyday and we want them to think about Oklahoma when they're writing," said Beth Schmidt of the Oklahoma Department of Commerce.

Tuesday's tour showed off the 3.3 million square foot maintenance operation for American Airlines. More than 6,800 employees work here and it's the largest commercial airline maintenance facility in the United States.

"American has been tremendously accessible in letting us go into airplanes and hang out with the maintenance people. The maintenance people have been lovely, very hospitable, nice visit," said Aviation Journalist Christine Negroni.

The Department of Commerce says press tours like this are an important part of marketing Oklahoma to the world.

They say these journalists are very specialized, and the stories they write about the aerospace industry in our state can go a long way to bringing in more businesses and more jobs.

Tulsa's Future, the Tulsa Chamber's economic development plan helped fund Tuesday's tour.

"We have to tell our story.  Highlighting our workforce creation in training at Tulsa Tech, innovations in new technology at FlightSafety, the high caliber of workmanship at American Airlines, and the national headquarters of NORDAM is just part of the story," Chamber CEO Mike Neal said.  "We are also featuring Oklahoma's job creation incentives and our region's famous hospitality."

This is Angeloni's first trip to Oklahoma. She says she came here because her readers are always looking for something new.

"Because it could be a good place to invest also for some Italian companies," Angeloni said.

For American Airlines, the tour is a chance to show off its Tulsa operation.

"We really enjoy taking the opportunity to show people in Oklahoma the tremendous capability we have here, as well as people throughout the world what Oklahoma means to aviation in general," said Peter Laszcz of American Airlines.

The tour is just one part of the department of commerce's effort to market Oklahoma's aerospace industry. Later this year the state will have a booth at an air show in France.