National Advanced Air Mobility Industry Forum lands in Springfield

Ohio, known as the birthplace of aviation, continues to be at the forefront of aviation and air mobility advancement and development, with Springfield being a major player.

Next week, Springfield will host the National Advanced Air Mobility Industry Forum at the Hollenbeck Bayley Creative Arts and Conference Center (HBC).

The event, sponsored by the Dayton Development Coalition (DDC), in collaboration with the City of Springfield, AFWERX Agility Prime partners, JobsOhio, Clark State College and the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) will take place on Aug. 22 and 23.

“We are really excited to have this industry forum in Springfield, which is what I consider the epicenter of the third evolution in flight, as we look to bring the capability of flight to everyone,” says Elaine Bryant of the DDC. “Our region is the home of the Wright Brothers, which were the first evolution of flight, the jet age was the second and now we are trying to bring everyone the ability to hop in their flying car to get to their next appointment.”

Bryant, vice president for Aerospace and Defense, says this industry is exciting because of the ability to leverage efforts by the Air Force to move the industry forward in Springfield and the surrounding region.

“{The Air Force) did that through a program called Agility Prime where they have funded OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) to move forward on their air worthiness and flight certification,” says Bryant. “It has allowed these companies to test using different air space and Air Force resources. One of those is Sky Vision, which makes its home in Springfield.”

Bryant says Springfield has grown in terms of testing UAS, UAV and eVTOLs and the technology is coming along. She says Ohio has a lot to offer OEMs in terms of a supplier base.

“We want these companies to come to Ohio - the Springfield and Dayton regions - to manufacture their airplanes, so we can leverage that manufacturing history and prowess,” she says. “That’s key to economic development. That’s where the jobs are. We want to entice them here for research, testing and development, but we want them to build in Ohio.”

Tom Franzen, the City of Springfield’s director of economic development and assistant city manager, says Springfield has been engaged in Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) strategy for nearly a decade.

“This is a statewide and regional effort,” he says. “Based on the assets and infrastructure we have at the Springfield-Beckley (Municipal) Airport and our proximity to Wright Patterson Air Force Base is why (the Forum) is centered in this area. This third evolution of flight is happening right where it should be - in Ohio.”

Franzen says the overarching goal is to continue to support the development of AAM in the state of Ohio and the country and to support activities of Air Force research labs and NASA.

The forum will feature exhibits and industry panel discussions at the conference center. The second day will include AAM activities at the Springfield-Beckley Municipal Airport and the early morning groundbreaking for the National Advanced Air Mobility Center of Excellence.

“We are excited about the groundbreaking. We are celebrating this new facility that’s going to open so many opportunities for us to continue to support the research and development, but ultimately to prototype and full-scale manufacturing,” says Franzen. “That’s the drive here, that we continue to solidify our role in the development of this third evolution of flight. Our eyes are on capturing as much of the economic development and impact that arise out of this activity.”

Construction on the National Advanced Air Mobility Center of Excellence is expected to begin in September and be completed in a year. It is a $9.35 million project and will house a 30,000 square foot office and a 25,000 square foot hangar.

The plan for the facility signals a next step for the airport, which is a major economic asset to the area, and can attract more investment in the future, says Franzen.

Springfield-Beckley is an aerospace complex that consists of a general aviation airport. It features space for the development and testing of air mobility technology, an unmanned aircraft systems flight range and a commercial business park.

The airport will also support manufacturers and operators of electric vertical takeoff and landing vehicles (eVTOL), a type of aircraft that uses electric power to hover, take off, and land vertically, Franzen explained.

In addition to the economic development, Franzen says preparing and educating the workforce is also vital to the success of AAM.

“Clark State was a very early supporter at the airport and the ongoing curriculum development related to the jobs of the future,” he says. “Clark State and Global Impact STEM Academy have been leading discussions about what the emerging workforce needs will be for the eVTOL industry.”

Franzen says there are many similarities with aerospace – it’s still aerospace at its heart – but that are the specific requirements with eVTOL, such as manufacturing or maintenance, and the software and hardware that will power these systems.

“Clark State College is honored to be a sponsor of this future-focused conference, and we look forward to creating and aligning programs that align with the workforce needed to establish Springfield as a major eVTOL hub,” says Dr. Jo Alice Blondin, president of Clark State.

Bryant says the time to showcase Ohio is now.

“We have invited OEMs, suppliers, and companies here in Ohio to have that integration to have those discussions,” she says. “Our goal is workforce. None of this moves forward without it.”

Read more articles by Darci Jordan.