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Duncan Aviation is the state's largest aviation-related business.

The Nebraska Department of Transportation on Friday announced plans for an economic impact study of the state's aviation industry.

The nearly $400,000 study, which will take about a year, will be paid for by both the Transportation Department and the Federal Aviation Administration.

The study is being done by GBA, an engineering firm based in Lenexa, Kansas, and is aimed at measuring the overall impact of aviation and airports on local economies and the state as a whole.

Ronnie Mitchell, the state's director of aeronautics, said the study is an opportunity to "show the people of this state how important aviation is."

He said the study, which is the first comprehensive statewide one done since 2002, will be a "living document" that will be continuously updated, rather than a one-time snapshot.

Mitchell and other officials held a kickoff event for the study at the Lincoln airport, at a hangar owned by Duncan Aviation, which is the state's largest aviation-related business.

Chairman Todd Duncan said the company, which does everything from providing fuel to completely overhauling aircraft, has 1,300 employees in Lincoln, up from 1,100 10 years ago, and those employees earn an average wage of $29.50 an hour.

That pumps a lot of money into the Lincoln economy, but Duncan also brings dollars to the community from elsewhere, because 95 percent of its business comes from out of state, and $1 of every $5 comes from outside the U.S., Duncan said.

"We know studies like this are very important," Duncan said.

The study will gather information through surveys of airport managers, airport tenants, general aviation visitors and commercial airline passengers.

Ed Young, GBA’s aviation market leader, said his firm has a "very aggressive" timetable that includes giving the state's airport managers only a week to respond to a survey that was sent out Friday. Still, Young said he is expecting 100 percent participation.

For more information on the study, go to:

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Business editor/reporter

Matt Olberding is a Lincoln native and University of Nebraska-Lincoln graduate who has been covering business for the Journal Star since 2005.

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