The Springfield-Beckley Municipal Airport was a destination recently for one of the longest cross-country flights performed by an electric aircraft of any kind in North America since 2016.
The flight took place last week and involved an electric vertical takeoff and landing vehicle, also known as an eVTOL. The particular aircraft that embarked from the east coast before making a stop in Springfield and finally completing its route in Arkansas was an Alia-250 eVTOL aircraft, which is being developed by Beta Technologies.
The news of the flight, which stopped at several regional airports along the way in order to recharge was shared by Electric VTOL News, which is part of the Vertical Flight Society, a non-profit technical society for the advancement of vertical flight.
The prototype by Beta travelled hundreds of miles between May 23 and May 30. That included embarking from New York and then making its way to Ohio, where it did a recharge stop at the Akron-Canton Regional Airport before going to Springfield-Beckley. After that, the prototype continued flying, making its final landing in Arkansas.
It constituted one of the longest cross-country flights performed by an electric aircraft since the cross-country journey of the Solar Impulse in 2016, according to the Electric VTOL News.
News of the flight follows recent efforts to turn the Springfield airport into a hub for Unmanned Aircraft System development and air mobility technology such as eVTOLs.
Millions of dollars have been invested or will be in new equipment and the planned construction of a National Advanced Air Mobility Center of Excellence at the airport. The goal is to pave the way for more testing that is related to drones and electric vertical takeoff and landing vehicles.
The airport also hopes to attract more companies and governmental agencies conducting research in both UAS and air mobility as well as aiding in the development of that technology. The idea is that work will eventually attract manufacturing and distribution operations related to that technology, local officials have stated.
The Springfield airport has made strides in recent years to become more accommodating to companies developing technology such as eVTOLS.
Beta Technologies has a charging station and charging platform located next to the Springfield-Beckley Municipal Airport.
Money has been invested into the airport in order to install charging stations, work with companies that are running tests and construct the National Advanced Air Mobility Center of Excellence, a $8.2 million, 30,000 square-foot building and additional hanger space to be used by both the Air Force and private industry partners.
Plans to construct the center follow the launching of a $35 million program by the U.S. Air Force last year called Agility Prime, which aims to create and speed a commercial market for advanced air mobility aircraft, such as eVTOLs.
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