The state of Ohio can expect more than $13 billion in economic activity over the next 25 years if it takes targeted steps to support the growth of an advanced autonomous aircraft sector, according to a new report by Crown Consulting.

Dr. Rubén Del Rosario, Crown Senior Director of Aerospace Systems, reported the findings of a new study, Infrastructure to Support Advanced Autonomous Aircraft Technologies in Ohio: An Economic Impact Analysis, during a recent public briefing hosted by the Ohio Department of Transportation, which commissioned the study.

Crown, with partners NEXA Capital Partners LLC and University of Cincinnati, was chosen by the Ohio’s Department of Transportation (ODOT) to conduct a comprehensive analysis of the state’s infrastructure and assets that can support AAM in October 2020.

They forecasted the potential economic benefits it could offer and recommended steps Ohio can take to capitalise on this emerging market. Researchers concluded the state can expect AAM to contribute 15,000 new jobs, $2.5 billion in local, state and federal tax revenues, and 1.6 per cent GDP growth through 2045 if it acts now to develop an AAM sector.

Del Rosario said: “The State of Ohio faces both opportunities and challenges with its transportation systems. As the seventh most populous state in the country and centrally located, Ohio has one of the largest highway networks in the country.

“Although this vast network serves the state well for moving people and cargo, population growth is driving increased operation and maintenance costs, which now total more than $12 billion a year. The challenge is not going away. While Ohio’s population has grown by three per cent since 2000, vehicle travel on Ohio’s roads has increased eight per cent.”

Ohio is one of the busier states in the USA when it comes to advanced air mobility. A groundbreaking ceremony to build an urban air mobility simulator at Springfield-Beckley Airport took place in December 2020 during AFWERX Accelerate, which included BETA Technologies and Joby Aviation.

Discussions are also in place with the city of Hillwood, Ghostwave, and Parallex Advanced Research to integrate AAM sensing technologies into LIFT Aircraft’s HEXA eVTOL for medical emergency missions.

Additionally, Ohio Unmanned Aircraft Systems Center of the Ohio Department of Transportation is one of four US states which will be working with NASA as part of a series of workshops to help governments prepare their transport plans to include cargo-carrying drone and passenger-carrying air taxi services.

Del Rosario said: “Ohio needs transportation solutions to carry the state into the future that are sustainable, affordable and efficient. “Advanced air mobility – or AAM – can play a key role in that solution.

“It will enable smart mobility solutions that connect urban and rural areas and regions for commuting that can be faster, more reliable and affordable, and less stressful than current modes of transport. Ohio can also expect significant benefits by expanding the use of small unmanned aircraft systems in Ohio.”