Beta Technologies and Joby Aviation are establishing a presence in the Dayton-Springfield region of Ohio as they progress through their Agility Prime campaigns with the U.S. Air Force.
According to the Dayton Development Coalition, the eVTOL developers intend to set up simulators for their aircraft at the Springfield-Beckley Municipal Airport by early 2021. Headquartered in Vermont and California, respectively, Beta and Joby are expanding their operations to Ohio in order to be closer to the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.
“Joby Aviation is excited to work closely with the Air Force Research Laboratory, Life Cycle Management Center, and the greater Dayton community to bring the reality of advanced air mobility one step closer to reality,” stated Luke Fischer, head of government operations at Joby Aviation, in a press release.
Beta president Kyle Clark echoed, “Beta is thrilled to shape the bright future of electric aviation in partnership with the [U.S. Air Force] and the Dayton community. Sharing the common goals of innovation and simplicity, we look forward to reaching new stages on our mission to advance the future of electric flight in Ohio.”
The Air Force announced in May that both Beta and Joby had advanced to the third phase of an innovative capabilities opening that was released in February through Agility Prime, the Air Force’s initiative to accelerate development of the domestic eVTOL industry. This so-called “air race to certification” aims to provide eVTOL developers with financial and in-kind resources as they work to certify their commercial vehicles.
“Agility Prime is an exciting opportunity for the Air Force to engage with industry and learn about the difficult task of developing electric air taxis,” stated AFRL commander Brig. Gen. Heather L. Pringle. “It also paves the way for AFRL and the Ohio community to advance the science and better understand an innovative capability with both military and commercial benefits.”
Beta and Joby are both developing winged, fully electric VTOL aircraft that fall under Agility Prime’s “Area of Interest One,” which seeks vehicles capable of carrying three to eight people at least 100 miles (160 kilometers) at speeds of at least 100 mph. Joby revealed its five-seat air taxi prototype in January 2020, and in July relocated it to U.S. Army Garrison Fort Hunter Liggett in California for flight testing. Beta revealed its eVTOL prototype, called Alia, in June when the vehicle was airlifted to its flight testing site in Plattsburgh, New York.
According to the Dayton Development Coalition, Ohio’s work in developing research capabilities for unmanned aerial systems (UAS) makes it an ideal location for Agility Prime contractors to establish operations. The Springfield-Beckley Municipal Airport is home to the Ohio UAS Center and SkyVision, a beyond-visual-line-of-sight range operated in partnership with the AFRL and the state of Ohio.
The coalition cited advanced technology to support testing, research and manufacturing, a strong network of collaborative partners, and proximity to leading institutions and talented workforce as factors combining to create “a strong ecosystem to support air taxis.”
“Dayton and Springfield are uniquely positioned to support Agility Prime and eVTOL companies,” said Elaine Bryant, the coalition’s vice president of aerospace and defense. “We’re thrilled to help Beta and Joby establish their operations here and believe they have a bright future in Ohio.”