Millions in improvements planned for Springfield airport

Leaders say efforts will pay off with more aviation and aerospace jobs.

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

City officials cheered the state recognition of Springfield-Beckley Municipal Airport at their Monday night meeting and approved grant applications valued in the millions to continue investment in airport improvements.

The city has forged partnerships with a number of state and federal agencies to launch innovative aerospace and aviation related technologies at the airport site.

“Springfield-Beckley is very much on the move, and we are very proud of what’s going on out there,” said Springfield Commissioner David Estrop. “It will undoubtedly add to the economic development of our community and expand the availability of jobs associated with aviation and aerospace.”

He offered congratulations to Seth Timmerman, Springfield-Beckley airport manager, and Tom Franzen, assistant city manager and director of economic development, for efforts that resulted in Springfield-Beckley being named 2023 airport of the year by the Ohio Aviation Association last week.

City commissioners also authorized additional state and federal grant applications at the meeting to further advance improvements and operations at the airport.

The city will seek an additional $5.5 million in airport improvement grants from the Federal Aviation Administration with a commitment of $157,651 in matching local funds for infrastructure projects at the airport.

A state grant application through the Ohio Department of Transportation Aviation Division would help in replacement of precision approach path indicator lights on one of the Springfield-Beckley runways. If approved, a state grant of $412,834 will be matched by a city contribution of $78,636 to complete runway lighting improvements.

A contract was also approved for installation of a cable system and closed-circuit camera system at the National Advanced Air Mobility Center of Excellence (NAAMCE) at Springfield-Beckley. The city will absorb all of the cost of the $241,740 investment.

The Center of Excellence is being funded with a $6 million grant from the U.S. Department of Defense and will explore electric flight, electric vertical takeoff and landing vehicles, or eVTOLs, along with autonomous flight.

Plans call for the Center of Excellence to be completed this fall in time to host the annual National Advanced Air Mobility Forum, which attracts aviation investors and innovators from across the country.

Springfield-Beckley airport is also central to the FlyOhio initiative exploring the technology to employ drones in safe flight to enable the use of unmanned aircraft for package and freight delivery, as well as in the development of eVTOLs, commonly called flying cars, for personal transportation use. The city of Springfield is collaborating with JobsOhio, Dayton Development Coalition and Ohio Federal Research Network in the FlyOhio initiative.

Such efforts got a boost earlier this year when President Joe Biden signed into law the Advanced Air Mobility Coordination and Leadership Act and established an interagency working group to plan and coordinate efforts to grow new transportation options and technologies under the banner of advanced air mobility. Twenty-two federal agencies are participating in the work group.

City commissioners normally meet the second and fourth Tuesdays of the month, but scheduled this week’s meeting for Monday.

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