Drone programs at Springfield airport expected to drive future job growth

Congressman Mike Turner holds a press conference after touring Springfield Beckley Municipal Airport Thursday, May 5, 2022. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

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Congressman Mike Turner holds a press conference after touring Springfield Beckley Municipal Airport Thursday, May 5, 2022. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

U.S. Rep. Mike Turner, R-Dayton said the unmanned drone and electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft programs at Springfield-Beckley Municipal Airport will drive future job growth in the field.

Turner, during a Thursday visit to the airport, used a simulator of the electric aircraft through Vermont-based company BETA Technologies, which has a charging station and charging platform located next to the municipal airport.

“This is the research and development of the future,” Turner said.

The congressman was joined by Tom Franzen, Springfield assistant city manager and director of economic development, and Dayton Development Coalition President and CEO Jeff Hoagland during his tour.

Due to recent redistricting, Springfield will be a part of U.S. House District 10, which Turner represents at this time.

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The ALIA electric vehicle aircraft. Photo provided by BETA Technologies.

Credit: Brian Jenkins

The ALIA electric vehicle aircraft. Photo provided by BETA Technologies.

Credit: Brian Jenkins

Combined ShapeCaption
The ALIA electric vehicle aircraft. Photo provided by BETA Technologies.

Credit: Brian Jenkins

Credit: Brian Jenkins

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“There’s a lot of opportunity for expansions and job development here,” he said.

Franzen said that construction on the National Advanced Air Mobility Center of Excellence is expected to begin in June, and a groundbreaking ceremony will be held. The construction is expected to wrap up in the summer of 2023.

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 companies developing the eVTOL and UAS technology that already have a presence at the airport. The U.S. Department of Defense awarded Springfield $6 million last year to build the facility at the municipal airport to house a flight research center.

“Lots of exciting things happening here in Springfield,” Franzen said.

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The type of air mobility technology researched and tested at the airport has been described as envisioning a safe and efficient aviation transportation system that uses highly automated aircraft that will operate and transport passengers or cargo at lower altitudes to urban and suburban areas.

Elaine Bryant, the vice president of aerospace and defense at the Dayton Development Coalition, said the aircraft could be used not only for transportation, but also has potential to service the health care industry through emergency cases and medical deliveries.

“BETA is looking to the future and realizes Ohio is the place to be,” she said, pointing to manufacturing talent and the workforce in the state.

The Dayton Development Coalition will host the National Advanced Air Mobility Industry forum, which will showcase local air mobility innovation, on Aug. 22-23 at Springfield-Beckley.

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