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Dayton Region Leads Third Revolution in Flight


2021 marked the Dayton Region’s emergence as a hub of innovation in urban air mobility and autonomous aviation systems, with industry leaders BETA Technologies, Joby Aviation, LIFT Aviation and Kittyhawk conducting research flights, building aircraft simulators and charging stations.

On Nov. 10, Kittyhawk’s autonomous airtaxi flew over the horizon, marking the first beyond visual line of sight of an Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) vehicle. 

Advanced Air Mobility is seen by many as the third evolution in aviation and may be the most significant event in the industry since the innovation of the jet engine. The technology has the potential to transform modern society by connecting rural and urban communities in ways never imagined. eVTOLs, a type of aircraft that uses electric power to hover, take off, and land vertically, will change the way people travel, incorporating air travel in ways that mirror automobiles.

The Dayton Region offers a perfect environment to develop, commercialize, manufacture and market aerospace technologies, services and products. 

Through the Agility Prime initiative, the U.S. Air Force is accelerating the commercial development of this technology market, projected at $115 billion by 2035. An Ohio Department of Transportation study projected an impact of $1.9 trillion globally with $13 billion impact in Ohio by 2045. As part of that effort, Springfield-Beckley Municipal Airport has been chosen as a research and test location for the development of AAM air vehicles.

We want companies to come here to test their technology and stay here to build. 

The Dayton Region has an unparalleled ecosystem for AAM. In addition to our proximity to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base (WPAFB), Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), and AFWERX, we have a strong aerospace supply chain, skilled workforce, and unique resources, like SkyVision, that facilitate testing. 

Aerospace companies know they can come to Dayton to research, develop and test new aerospace technologies. But they might not realize they can stay and build here, too. Along with the R&D and testing taking place, Dayton has a strong advanced manufacturing sector with plenty of experience building cars, airplanes and other goods keeping us well-positioned to build the flying cars of the future.

Dayton and Ohio’s AAM teams work with major defense contractors, JobsOhio, the State of Ohio, industry, and academia across the state to assess needs and resources. Springfield has seen significant investment at the state and federal level. 

In February 2021, Springfield-Beckley Municipal Airport received a $226,000 grant from JobsOhio’s Ohio Site Inventory Program (OSIP) for infrastructure work to support charging stations and flight simulators for eVTOL vehicles. 

In August, BETA and Joby announced plans to bring flight simulators to the airport in 2021. The companies officially broke ground on the simulators in December, the same day BETA opened its first Rapid Recharge System at the airport. The OSIP grant covers site preparation, utility extensions, an access drive, and parking area for the facilities for the $1.2 million project.

Later that year, the Department of Defense approved a $6 million Defense Community Infrastructure grant in September to support the establishment of a National Advanced Air Mobility Center of Excellence (NAAMCE) near the airport’s completed charging stations and simulators.  

The investment will fund a two-story, 30,000-square-foot office building that can house administrative, laboratory, and meeting space, with 15,000 square feet of aircraft hangar space for the Air Force and private industry. The center will support the expanding work of manufacturers and operators of eVTOLs and other AAM vehicles.

NAAMCE will cement Dayton’s position in this emerging market and leverage its proximity to WPAFB and AFRL by connecting industry, academia, and government agencies together to rapidly accelerate this technology. This partnership will also encourage industry partners to plant manufacturing roots and build supply chains inside the Dayton Region.     

The coalition’s strength has always been as a connector and facilitator. We can work with the Air Force, NASA, private industry, and academia to support their work in this field. We can assist with everything from helping them find sites, talent, and other resources to advance their technology, to helping them establish the necessary partnerships within the region to support their growth.

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