Ohio is the birthplace of aviation, and the state continues to support the industry today on multiple levels. Home to over 565+ aviation firms, Ohio will soon welcome Joby Aviation’s first scaled manufacturing center. This will help connect them to a brand new era of aviation that is defined by a commitment to Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) operations. Pioneered by JobsOhio, these efforts are set to be realized statewide and nationally.

JobsOhio, the state’s private nonprofit economic development corporation, is joined by the Virginia Department of Aviation and Unmanned Systems Center at the Virginia Innovation Partnership Corporation (VIPC) in taking the lead on the creation of the AAM Multistate Collaborative, a group that has grown to 27 states today. As the industry evolves at a rapid pace and continues to incorporate unmanned systems and operations, the two states saw the need for a space where other states working with AAM could come together to discuss the best ways to operate and move forward. What started as a conversation between Ohio and Virginia at XPONENTIAL 2023 swiftly advanced to a 27-state collaboration that is set to define the role of state government in AAM operations.

At this year’s XPONENTIAL, a town hall forum was held for their multistate collaborative which was well attended and gauged plenty of interest and participation from the audience. Representatives from Ohio DOT, Springfield-Beckley Airport, JobsOhio, CAL Analytics, and the National Advanced Air Mobility Center of Excellence (NAAMCE) exhibited in one booth as a team, answering questions and providing guidance on the state of AAM in Ohio and across the states.

Commercial UAV News spoke with them to gain insights on how the collaborative is making change in the airspace today.

“The ultimate goal of this is to deliver consistent guidance to federal policy makers and regulators to make sure everything's consistent from a from state-to-state basis across the country,” said Tim Sweeney, Senior Director of Aviation & Aerospace and Dave Gilligan, Communications Manager at JobsOhio. “What's important to Alaska may not be important to Ohio.”

As the states come together, questions related to creating the right state policy, infrastructure standards and how operators can fly state to state and not be impeded by one state's policies that are not aligned with another state's policy are some of the most common ones that come up. They’re important ones to sort out since regulations around airspace and traffic management vary from state to state.

That’s also why the collaborative is working to streamline these rules to make unmanned operations more efficient in the future. This initiative aims to support passenger taxis, emergency response efforts, cargo logistics, and the healthcare sector. By the end of the year, the collaborative plans to produce a series of consensus papers on the major topics that are affecting policies such as energy, traffic management, and infrastructure. 

JobsOhio began efforts in AAM by jointly funding the National Advanced Air Mobility Center of Excellence (NAAMCE), located in Springfield, Ohio. This facility serves as a testing center for drone manufacturers and future Airforce pilots with a specific focus on eVTOL vehicles.

“The Air Force has a vested interest in how to train their future pilots,” Sweeney told Commercial UAV News. “The Department of Defense is also an investor in this facility, which collaborates with the Airforce Research Laboratory and AFWERX.”

Another important Federal partner is NASA Glenn Research Center who works closely with Ohio Department of Transportation in areas of noise signatures and communications. Additionally, the Springfield-Beckley Airport offers 220 square miles of airspace for pilots to run test flights, manned or unmanned, making it a prime location for new technology to be evaluated and certified. The versatility of these spaces is an important element of the testing process that others can similarly leverage.

“Whether it's a contractor that's working with AFWERX in the Air Force to test out their different vehicles that are entering the marketplace or other innovative suppliers performing their first flight,” said Sweeney. “The NAAMCE is a valuable place to be if you are a company or government agency looking be a critical part of AAM.”