Investments in region related to UAS and air mobility testing drawing more companies

Gus Meyer, a drone pilot at SIC Drones, calibrates one of the company's UAV's at the Springfield Beckley Municipal Airport Thursday, May 12, 2022. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

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Gus Meyer, a drone pilot at SIC Drones, calibrates one of the company's UAV's at the Springfield Beckley Municipal Airport Thursday, May 12, 2022. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

A Massachusetts-based company that tested a drone at the Springfield-Beckley Municipal Airport Thursday that can reach speeds up to 100 mph is part of the effort to turn the region into a hub for Unmanned Aircraft System development and air mobility technology.

Local officials said they hope millions of dollars invested in new equipment and the planned construction of a National Advanced Air Mobility Center of Excellence at the airport will pave the way for more testing related drones and electric vertical takeoff and landing vehicles (eVTOL).

The goal is 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 hope is that work will eventually attract manufacturing and distribution operations related to that technology to the region, said Shannon Joyce Neal, a spokeswoman with the Dayton Development Coalition.

Though drone development is different than the work that is being done with eVTOLs, it all plays a role in attracting more industry leaders to the area, Joyce Neal added.

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The company Sic Drone Inc. that tested Thursday says that it plans to continue to test its drone at the airport. The drone that it flew on Thursday could be used for industrial purposes, with the focus of being utilized by offshore wind farms, said Kevin Corrigan, the director of business development for Sic Drone.

Corrigan said that includes the drone being able to navigate through winds of 28 to 30 mph and that technology could be used to perform a variety of different task.

“So we can help with keeping an eye on endangered species. We can inspect turbines themselves. We can deliver parts and tools out to the field and aid in search and rescue missions as well,” Corrigan said.

“Specifically our commercial model would be geared towards higher end industrial commercial needs,” he added.

Though the company is located just outside of Boston, Corrigan said they may expand their presence in Ohio, including setting up an office and location for distribution.

In terms of Springfield, he said they may set up a presence at the airport to accommodate testing needs. The company has been testing its commercial product at Springfield-Beckley in part due to its proximity to Cleveland, where Corrigan is based. Affordability to conduct testing compared to other regions in the country as well as a friendlier environment for smaller companies and infrastructure that has been added in recent years also plays a role in the decision to test in the area.

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The airport boast technology such as SkyVision. The technology allows for the safe, accurate and effective operation of unmanned aircraft systems by detecting and avoiding other aircrafts.

That is epically helpful for drone technology testing.

The airport has made strides in recent years to become more accommodating to companies developing that type of technology as well as those working on air mobility.

That includes installing charging stations, working with companies that are running tests and the planned construction of 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.

The latter, that will be known as the National Advanced Air Mobility Center of Excellence, will relate to the development of air mobility technology such as eVTOLs.

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