DOD award bolsters Ohio’s standing in advanced air mobility

Avatar for eVTOLBy eVTOL | September 28, 2021

Estimated reading time 6 minutes, 13 seconds.

The Department of Defense’s announcement of a $6 million grant to the City of Springfield, Ohio, last week both confirms and advances the region’s position as a hub for research and development of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) and advanced air mobility (AAM).

advanced air mobility eVTOL
Ohio has been actively courting the emerging advanced air mobility industry. JobsOhio president and CEO J.P. Nauseef said the National Advanced Air Mobility Center of Excellence “will be a cutting-edge facility that further solidifies Springfield and Ohio at the center of future eVTOL development.” Chesky_W/iStock Image

One of 13 grants for fiscal year 2021, with a total value of $60 million, awarded through the Defense Community Infrastructure Pilot Program by the Office of Local Defense Community Cooperation, the Springfield award was unique in its forward-facing specificity.  

While other monies under the program were designated for traditional infrastructure projects such as runway and sewer improvements, the Springfield grant will go towards the establishment of a National Advanced Air Mobility Center of Excellence (NAAMCE) at Springfield-Beckley Municipal Airport. 

The NAAMCE facility, which is expected to have a final cost of just over $8 million, will feature a two-story, 30,000-square-foot office building with administrative, laboratory, and meeting space. It will also have 15,000 square feet of aircraft hangar space, available to both the U.S. Air Force and private industry. 

Construction of the project is slated to begin in 2022, with completion expected in 2023. Site preparation, including the extension of utilities and construction of charging stations, is currently being undertaken with a $226,000 grant awarded to the airport in February through JobsOhio’s Ohio Site Inventory Program (OSIP). 

Located near Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, headquarters of the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), Springfield-Beckley Municipal Airport is already home to satellite offices and test facilities for several leaders in urban air mobility. Beta Technologies, Joby Aviation, and LIFT Aircraft have all established operations at Springfield-Beckley to support their participation in the Air Force’s Agility Prime campaign to accelerate advancement of the commercial eVTOL industry. 

Springfield-Beckley is also home to SkyVision, a mobile ground-based detect and avoid system that uses radar feed from nearby airports to provide UAS operators real-time aircraft display data. Developed by the State of Ohio with various industry and government partners, SkyVision has been described by the Air Force as an “air traffic control system for UAS,” and has enabled AFRL to conduct beyond-visual-line-of-sight (BVLOS) operations of UAS in the Springfield-Beckley airspace. 

Meanwhile, the Kroger grocery chain this summer debuted a drone delivery option for customers of its Centerville, Ohio, store in collaboration with Drone Express/TELEGRID, with technology tested in the Springfield airspace. 

Support for the continued growth of Ohio’s AAM programs comes from across many levels of private and public enterprise, from the Dayton Development Coalition (DDC) — a longstanding advocate for missions and funding for “Wright-Patt” — to the state’s congressional representatives. 

In a letter to Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III, advocating for NAAMCE, Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown characterized the facility as having the potential to make southwest Ohio the “nation’s preeminent location for the development and early adoption of AAM technologies.”  

The City of Springfield shares in Brown’s vision, anticipating that the project will facilitate expansion on the part of existing operators, while attracting additional developers, manufacturers and operators to the region. 

“The City is excited to receive this grant to build on the momentum already established at Springfield-Beckley aiding in the advancements of the eVTOL industry. This facility, in conjunction with strong partnerships between the City, AFRL, DDC, JobsOhio, and the State of Ohio will provide the infrastructure necessary to expedite the development of this revolutionary technology,” stated Springfield assistant city manager Tom Franzen.  

In a study commissioned by the Ohio Department of Transportation and released this year, Crown Consulting Inc. indicated that the State of Ohio could see a value-added economic impact in excess of $13 billion between 2021 and 2045 as a result of targeted steps to support the growth of AAM.  

Notice a spelling mistake or typo?

Click on the button below to send an email to our team and we will get to it as soon as possible.

Report an error or typo

Have a story idea you would like to suggest?

Click on the button below to send an email to our team and we will get to it as soon as possible.

Suggest a story

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.