Construction on $8.2M advance air mobility research facility at Springfield airport to start in June

The Lift Aircraft crew prepares to demonstrate their advanced air mobility system, or flying car, during the Advanced Air Mobility Showcase at the Springfield-Beckley Municipal Airport in November. The airport is quickly becoming a hub for that type of technology.  BILL LACKEY/STAFF

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The Lift Aircraft crew prepares to demonstrate their advanced air mobility system, or flying car, during the Advanced Air Mobility Showcase at the Springfield-Beckley Municipal Airport in November. The airport is quickly becoming a hub for that type of technology. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

Construction of the National Advanced Air Mobility Center of Excellence at the Springfield-Beckley Municipal Airport is slated to start in June as the area is quickly becoming a hub for that type of technology.

The $8.2 million center will be a 30,000 square-foot, two-story facility that will accommodate university and government research as well as company’s developing that technology that already have a presence at the airport.

However, as the project gains traction and more people start to look at advanced air mobility aircraft, it can spur more investment as well as more companies setting up a presence in the area, said Tom Franzen assistant city manager and Director of Economic Development for the City of Springfield.

“It is really across the board where we are seeing interest. As it becomes more visible and people get a better understanding of what is happening in Springfield and in Ohio, the entire advance air mobility ecosystem in Ohio, it is opening a lot of eyes and people are starting to see the opportunities,” Franzen said.

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That interest has come from university’s as well as companies that want to get closer to the research and development of that technology. Investments can be in new equipment needed for that work or it can take the form of a manufacturing presence in the near future, which is one the driving motivating factors of local investment in air mobility infrastructure.

The center will also be used by other entities that are part of the program called Agility Prime. The Air Force launched a $35 million program this year called Agility Prime, seeking to create and speed a commercial market for advanced air mobility aircraft.

The new building at the airport is expected to be operational in June of 2023. A hangar will also be built as a result of the project and it will be adjacent to the new facility. It is expected to be used by both the Air Force and private industry.

The idea is to provide space at the Springfield-Beckley Municipal Airport that will support manufacturers and operators of electric vertical takeoff and landing vehicles (eVTOL), also known as a flying car. It is a type of aircraft that uses electric power to hover, take off, and land vertically.

It will also support the five companies that are already working on advance air mobility at the Springfield airport.

Some maintenance repair organizations have already expressed interests that they want to be closer to the development of the air mobility technology in order to better understand what the service requirements may be for those new aircraft, said Franzen.

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The Ohio Unmanned Aircraft Systems Center, an Ohio Department of Transportation entity that is managing the Skyvision radar asset, will also set up shop at the National Advanced Air Mobility Center of Excellence at the airport.

The idea is for them to be closer to the clients that they will be working with.

The center at Springfield’s municipal airport is expected to cost $8.2 million. Springfield has been awarded $6 million from the U.S. Department of Defense for the construction of that facility. Another $2 million in costs will be covered by JobsOhio and the rest will be covered by the City of Springfield.

Springfield is currently interviewing three contractors and one is slated to be selected next week. The design and engineering phase will then start before construction begins.

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