The Northeast Alabama Regional Airport (GAD/KGAD) is a vital facility to the aviation sector and Gadsden's prominence in the region. The airport is an almost 1,500-acre uncontrolled field consisting of two runways and a Category 1 Instrument Landing System. The main runway of 6,802 x 150 feet (2,073 x 46 meters), a secondary runway of 4,806 x 100 feet (1,465 x 30 meters). You can find other specifications on the airport here.

On average, there are 300 takeoffs and landings per week, counting touch-and-gos. The airport services general aviation traffic, including corporate jets, about 75% of which is transient. For services, the airport provides Chevron 100 LL Avgas and Jet A fuel. The facility is also a frequent stop for military cargo and an excellent spot for different types of training. The Alabama National Guard is an essential partner of the airport and conducts a large number of operations through the two runways.

Currently, Northeast Alabama Reginal Airport (GAD) has plans in place to extend the main runway from 6,800 feet to a total of 11,000 feet. This extension also comes with an upgrade to the airport's fuel farm. In an announcement of the project, The Gadsden Airport Authority and the Alabama National Guard said the expansion would allow the national guard to significantly expand its presence at the airport as well as expanding the airport's ability to service air freight operations.

While there is a consistent amount of traffic, there is no demand for local commercial air service due to the proximity of the Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport, less than an hour's drive from Gadsden. It accommodates fully loaded and fully fueled 747 aircraft. Offering nearly 120 departures and arrivals daily to and from 42 cities throughout the nation, it ranks in the country's top 75 airports in terms of passengers served annually.

Alabama has a rich history in aerospace and aviation — an industry that took off on our soil more than a century ago. Ever since the Wright Brothers established the nation’s first civilian flight school in Montgomery back in 1910, Alabama has provided a steady launchpad for companies and organizations involved in flight.

Alabama’s presence in the aerospace and aviation industry is broad and vast, with activities in virtually every segment of the sector. Aerospace manufacturing alone accounts for around 13,200 jobs in the state, while Alabama also ranks among the Top 5 states for aerospace engineers. 

Over 300 aerospace companies from more than 30 different countries have chosen Alabama, including industry giants such as Boeing, Lockheed Martin, GE Aviation, Raytheon and GKN Aerospace. Another of these giants is Airbus, which produces its A320 Family passenger jets at a $600 million manufacturing facility in Mobile, where it is also adding a second production line for A220 aircraft.

In addition to private companies, Alabama also has a strong military aerospace/aviation presence. Located in Southeast Alabama, Fort Rucker serves as the training center for U.S. Army helicopter pilots. In Huntsville, Redstone Arsenal is a major research, engineering, and test center that houses the Army’s critical missile defense and aviation programs. The Arsenal is also home to the Marshall Space Flight Center, one of NASA’s largest and most historic facilities. Another aerospace cluster is developing in the Mobile area around the Airbus assembly line.

Alabama’s comprehensive aerospace/aviation presence also includes an extensive roster of training programs and assets. AIDT’s Robotics Technology Park near Decatur offers specialized training in robotics and automation programs, and AIDT operates an aviation training center in Mobile. In addition, the Alabama Community College System’s Alabama Aviation Center, which has several locations across the state, offers FAA-certified training in airframe and engine maintenance.

Quick Facts

  • 100+ years of aerospace and aviation history
  • 61,000+ employed in aerospace and defense
  • 4,660 aerospace engineers (Top 5 in US)
  • Home to businesses from 30 countries
  • 2nd largest research and technology park in the U.S. (Cummings Research Park)
  • More than 300 aerospace companies
  • Aerospace manufacturing employed 13,200 in 2019
  • Nearly $2.4 billion in aerospace equipment and parts exported in 2018
  • More than $8.4 billion in Department of Defense contracts in FY 2015


  • Airbus
  • Boeing
  • Northrop Grumman
  • Continental Aerospace
  • United Launch Alliance
  • PPG Aerospace
  • WestWind Group
  • Sikorsky
  • Airbus Military NA
  • Raytheon
  • UTC Aerospace Systems
  • SAIC
  • GKN Aerospace
  • Lockheed Martin
  • GE Aviation
  • BAE Systems
  • VT MAE
  • Aerojet Rocketdyne
  • Teledyne Brown Engineering
  • Commercial Jet
  • Dynetics
  • SES
  • Bell

Aviation Training

  • AIDT
  • ACCS Alabama Aviation Center
  • Fort Rucker
  • CAE Training for Fixed-Wing Army Aviators

Aerospace Engineering Departments at Alabama Universities

These Alabama universities offer degrees in Aerospace Engineering:

  • Auburn University
  • University of Alabama
  • Tuskegee University
  • University of Alabama at Huntsville