Whether you are big fan of the NFL or not, it will be difficult for anyone to miss one of the world’s biggest sporting events taking place this weekend – as the Denver Broncos take on the Carolina Panthers, in Superbowl 50.

And whilst the focus on Sunday will be purely on the footballing merits of the two teams, Denver and Carolina have more of a link to the Aerospace industry, and the UK, than you might think….

Denver, Colorado

  • Colorado’s Aerospace Industry employs over 25,000 people, has 140 Aerospace companies and achieves over $300m in exports every year.
  • Colorado is also the best US state for private aerospace employment concentration, and has an annual payroll of around $3.2bn.
  • Denver Airport is the 18th busiest in the world – with over 53 million passengers in 2014.
  • In 2014, 79,033 passengers travelled to and from London Heathrow to Denver International – the 7th largest international destination for the airport.
  • Apollo 13 Astronaut Jack Swigert (played by Kevin Bacon in Apollo 13 movie) was born and raised on Denver.
  • UK company Cobham PLC, has a significant presence in Colorado state – with its Cobham Semiconductor Solutions arm based in Colorado Springs. The company supplies semiconductors and circuit cards to both military and commercial customers.
  • Surrey Satellite Technology established its US headquarters in Colorado back in 2008, seeking to address to growing US market. The US arm works hand-in-hand with UK operations, and has cleanroom space for satellite and subsystem manufacture, customer payload integration, and electronics assembly activities.


  • Carolina is the birthplace of powered flight – in 1903, brothers Orville and Wilbur Wright flew the first controlled powered aircraft flights from Kill Devil Hills, 4 miles south of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.
  • The state employs 9,500 people across over 180 companies – ranking the 9th best state for manufacturing employment across the US.
  • Last year, 183,937 passengers travelled to and from London Heathrow to Charlotte Douglas International –the 6th largest international destination for the airport.
  • Spirit Aerospace has a 500,000 sq meter manufacturing facility in Kinston North Carolina – where they produce the composite front spar for the A350XWB wings – which they then ship to Spirit’s UK base in Prestwick, Scotland for integration into the wing leading edges.
  • UK company GKN Aerospace invested $38m in a new site in Orangeburg, South Carolina, with more than 250 employees. The site has a significant link with GKN’s UK operations as production of the winglets for the 737MAX are made in Cowes, Isle of Wight, and then shipped to Orangeburg for final assembly.

…And in advance of Sunday’s game, here are some other quick NFL/ Aerospace related stats…!

  • Denver QB Peyton Manning’s longest pass of his career, 86 yards (258ft), is nearly the same length as the wingspan of an Airbus A380 (261 ft)
  • It would take 144 A380 aircraft to carry all the fans set to be inside Levi’s Stadium San Franciso, the host of Superbowl 50 on Sunday night.
  • Carolina QB, Cam Newton’s longest ‘standing jump’ length was measured at 126 inches (3.2m) – almost the same width as the cabin on an A320 (145 inches – 3.7m).
  • It is estimated that NFL tackles can see G-forces up to 5x bigger than that experienced by a fighter jet pilot in tight turns!