By Elaine Bryant, Executive Vice President for Aerospace and Defense
In April 2020, the United States Air Force introduced Agility Prime, an initiative to develop the commercial market for advanced air mobility aircraft, often referred to as "flying cars" or "flying taxis". The Air Force plans to use Agility Prime to create a domestic supply chain to support the development and production of electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft and other urban air mobility (UAM) and advanced air mobility (AAM) aircraft right here in the U.S. As an Air Force program, Agility Prime can leverage military assets, like testing sites, safety certifications and R&D opportunities, to attract investors, build confidence in the technology and support companies involved in this new sector.
I’m really excited about Agility Prime and the potential it holds for the Dayton region and the broader state of Ohio. The program will bring many eVTOL companies here so they can research, develop and test innovations in UAM and AAM. In fact, LIFT Aircraft recently unveiled its HEXA multirotor single-passenger eVTOL at Springfield-Beckley Municipal Airport where the aircraft will soon begin flight testing in the expansive airspace just east of Dayton. Additionally, as a result of a recent grant from JobsOhio and partnership with BETA Technologies, “flying car” charging stations and simulator construction is now underway at the airport. The Dayton Region is a perfect location for this type of work considering the assets available here, including Wright Patterson Air Force Base, the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), the Ohio Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) Center and the state’s overall infrastructure for smart mobility.
But once the initial R&D and testing phases are complete, there’s no reason for companies to leave. The Dayton region is also an ideal place for manufacturing. That’s why we say, “Come here to test and stay here to build.”
With 2,000 companies and more than 93,600 employees, advanced manufacturing is one of the region’s top industries and major economic drivers, making up nearly one-quarter of our $76 billion gross regional product. Our manufacturing sector includes Honda of America and Crown Equipment Corp., both among the top 10 employers in the region. It also includes dozens of suppliers to the automotive, aerospace and defense industries, including companies that make propellers, powertrains, advanced sensors, avionics, antilock brakes, landing gear, glass windshields, diesel engines, flight controls and more. So whatever type of partners you’re looking for, chances are you’ll find them in Dayton.
Our success in manufacturing starts with our workforce. We have highly skilled, experienced workers who know how to operate and maintain the high-tech equipment used in today’s advanced manufacturing. They’re capable of filling the positions needed to make eVTOLs and their necessary components, and they’re available and ready to hit the ground running.
But if specialized training is needed, Dayton offers plenty of options, from community colleges and local universities to vocational schools and workforce development centers.
The Dayton region also boasts a collaborative ecosystem, where government, private industry and academia work together to research, develop and manufacture innovative products and processes. Agility Prime, of course, is a perfect example of the collaborative opportunities available at Wright Patterson Air Force Base. The University of Dayton’s Research Institute (UDRI) is another example. A national leader in scientific and engineering research, UDRI partners with advanced manufacturing companies, helping them integrate the newest technologies and practices into their operations. eVTOL companies, in particular, can benefit from UDRI’s extensive work with advanced composite materials, robotics and automation, and smart factory operations.
We’re thrilled that so much of the research, development and testing for eVTOLs and other advanced air mobility aircraft will be happening in Dayton in coordination with the U.S. Air Force. But we’re just as excited that this work could leverage our region’s long history of manufacturing brain and brawn. We know we have the manufacturing might to build the flying cars of the future.
I’d love the opportunity to talk with you about the Dayton region and why it’s such an ideal location not just for researching and testing eVTOL aircraft, but for making them, too. We have a lot to offer companies like yours, and I hope you’ll take a serious look at growing your business in Dayton.