What Does the Division of Aviation Do?

The Division of Aviation is responsible for all aviation functions regarding state system planning, airport and aviation system development. It also provides funding to communities for constructing and improving airports throughout the state.

North Carolina has 72 publicly owned airports and nearly 300 privately owned airports. Ten airports have regularly scheduled airline service and two serve international destinations. There are more than 7,000 registered aircraft based in the state and 14,000 licensed pilots. More than 50 million passengers fly to and from North Carolina each year, and companies transport more than 1.3 billion pounds of cargo through North Carolina airports every year.

Services offered by the division include NCDOT State Aircraft Services and Safety and Education Support.

Parked airplane

NCDOT and State Aircraft Services

The Division of Aviation also operates and maintains NCDOT's two twin-engine aircraft, which provide a range of services such as:

  • Aerial photography and spatial information products for transportation projects
  • Passenger service
  • Aviation safety
  • Statewide emergency response

Contact the Aviation Division for more about how its aircraft serve North Carolina.

Drones (Unmanned Aircraft Systems)

Unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), also called drones, have the potential to change the way we approach agriculture, public safety, construction and many other important industries in North Carolina. As a leader in UAS-drone implementation, the N.C. Department of Transportation aims to show how beneficial and safe this technology can be.

Safety and Education Support

The Division of Aviation's Safety and Education Section is dedicated to keeping North Carolina "First in Flight" and "First in Safety."

The section – in cooperation with the Federal Aviation Administration, state/federal government, aviation industry representatives, volunteer groups and other organization – creates and promotes safety and educational opportunities throughout the year.

The division sponsors events and programs that include:

  • Pilot education events
  • Aircraft maintenance technician (AMT) and inspection authorization (IA) education and license renewal programs
  • General public and youth aviation education programs

Content for programs is based on information received from accident data via the FAA, National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Associations "Nall Report." Customer demand and trends also play an important role.

Contact staff to learn more about what the division offers for Safety and Education Support.

Below are specific programs that the Division of Aviation supports. For more information regarding current event dates, view the Aviation Events Calendar.

Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association Air Safety Foundation Courses

The Division of Aviation partners with the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) to sponsor high-quality, professional safety presentations in North Carolina. These popular courses are well-attended and are usually offered alongside the fall and spring Wings fly-in events, with additional presentations offered the following week.

N.C. Annual Soaring Safety Summit

The Soaring Safety Summit brings together soaring pilots from across North Carolina and the East Coast in an effort to serve the needs of a unique community of aviators who fly unpowered aircraft. The event is sponsored by regional soaring organizations, the Division of Aviation and the FAA.

Helicopter Safety Summit

The Division of Aviation co-sponsors an annual Helicopter Safety Summit, bringing in industry experts and representatives for presentations on new technology, regulations and trends. Topics are selected by studying accident data, industry technology and customer demand.

Mountain Flying Clinics

On a biannual basis, the Division of Aviation co-sponsors a Mountain Flying Clinic that includes seminars and flight training provided by experienced mountain flying instructors. The division works with local representatives to encourage pilots to participate in this educational program through aeronautical chart safety messages, mailers, posters and peak visitation class scheduling.

Wings Pilot Proficiency Program

Qualifying under the FAA's Pilot Proficiency Program (also known as the Wings Program), this event features a safety seminars, flight proficiency training and aviation exhibits to encourage pilots to receive training more frequently than the FAA's mandatory two-year program. The Wings Program allows pilots to meet their mandatory FAA training requirements (FAA Flight Review) by successfully completing a combination of online and lecture classes, then receiving flight training from an FAA-certified flight instructor. Pilots are required to fly to a "performance standard" to meet the FAA's Wings requirements. Class topics are based on current accident data provided by the FAA, NTSB and the AOPA's Nall Report.

Flight Instructor Workshops

The best way to evoke positive change in pilot education is to become an FAA-certified flight instructor. The Division of Aviation co-sponsors an aggressive program to offer 32 flight instructor workshops each year. Topics are selected using current accident data, trends and expert opinion.

Aviation Maintenance Technician/Inspection Authorization Safety Programs

Aviation maintenance safety is an important component to flight safety. The Division of Aviation has partnered with industry experts to offer programmed instruction and facility tours across the state to help aviation maintenance technicians (AMTs) complete the FAA's AMT Awards Program and meet inspection authorization (IA) renewal requirements.

AMTs with an advanced IA standing can complete their yearly eight-hour training requirement (if applicable) by attending four two-hour programs or one eight-hour program. Eight-hour programs typically occur in March, corresponding with the IA renewal month requirement.

Flying Companion Course

Designed for "frequent fliers" in general aviation aircraft, the Companion Pilot Course gives participants flight confidence through a better understanding of aircraft systems and operations. Opportunities to fly with an FAA-certified flight instructor are also available during many of these events.

General Public Education

The Division of Aviation offers speakers to a number of public groups to discuss aviation, airports, aviation safety and/or state government aviation. The division believes that the more the general public knows about aviation, the better.

Youth Aviation Education

The Division of Aviation realizes the importance of supporting youth aviation education in North Carolina. The division proudly co-sponsors an Aviation Explorer Post, "A Day at the Airport" programs and Aviation Youth Camps and offers career days and educational materials for youth interested in the field.

Young Eagle Flight Program

The Division of Aviation supports the Experiment Aircraft Associations (EAA) Young Eagles Program. This program goes beyond simply talking about flying to get kids ages 8-17 into aircraft for a thrilling ride. The division supports state EAA chapter efforts through co-sponsorship of events and materials. For more information about the program or to volunteer, visit the Young Eagles Program website.