Atlantic County is poised to be a leader in new aerospace technology

BYONCE TYUS For the press

New Jersey could become a leader in a growing new sector of aviation technology that could one day lead to air taxis, transporting people and cargo between cities and communities using electrically powered, vertical-landing aircraft.

The new technology is called Advanced Air Mobility, and Atlantic County is poised to reap millions in tax revenue and create thousands of new jobs over the next 15 years, according to a recent study by Deloitte Consulting LLC.

The study was conducted for the National Aerospace Research and Technology Park in Egg Harbor Township, which sees the new technology as a source of jobs and income for South Jersey.

“Advanced Air Mobility presents us with a unique opportunity for economic development with statewide benefits that begins here in Atlantic County,” said Howard Kyle, President and CEO of the National Aerospace Research and Technology Park. “It will create technology-based jobs and will help attract aviation-related companies.”

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The new aeronautical technology that is being developed is in the early stages of planning and development but is advancing rapidly, Kyle said.

The Atlantic County-based research and technology park is helping to lay the foundations to bring new industry to the county in hopes of solving the economic crisis and transforming the state into a leader in Advanced Air Mobility (AAM ) close.

“We have a critical need for economic diversification because when the casino industry stalled a few years ago, it was devastating,” said Kyle. “We ran an economic study, identified five sectors, and the most promising for immediate paybacks was aviation.”

According to the study, the growth of the industry will create jobs in four categories: direct, indirect, induced and catalytic.

AAM is expected to create 3,079 direct jobs, positions needed to enable operations.

According to the Deloitte Consulting report, indirect jobs that would manufacture the critical components and services needed by the new vertical-flying aircraft would increase by 4,936.

Another 5,456 new jobs would be created to meet the needs of the new workforce, known as induced jobs, while another 12,208 jobs are expected to be created in tourism, insurance, law firms and real estate, according to the study.

In addition to helping create technology-based jobs, Advanced Air Mobility technology is expected to draw the attention of aviation-related companies, Kyle said.

Joby Aviation, a Santa Cruz, Calif.-based aerospace company that develops vertical takeoff and landing aircraft, has shortlisted Atlantic County as a location for development and research, Kyle said.

Deloitte also noted that Advanced Air Mobility will generate tax revenue for New Jersey through the newly created jobs. The estimated tax benefits from the study would reach $152 million annually.

According to the study, New Jersey is an “economically viable” location due to its proximity to Philadelphia and New York.

The county also has an aviation center that includes resources such as the FAA William J. Hughes Technical Center, Atlantic City International Airport and Research Park.

Kyle said the Atlantic County Economic Center has been working with the National Aerospace Research and Technology Park to develop a “state-of-the-art maintenance and repair academy” that will include AAM and unmanned aerial systems (UAS) aircraft.

“On top of that, there will be augmented and virtual reality training,” Kyle said. “The Air Force has signed a (memorandum of understanding) to participate in the planning of this academy.”

Academic institutions such as Rowan University, Atlantic County Institute of Technology, Atlantic Cape Community College, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and the National Institute of Aerospace are also partners in the technology park.

Also part of the plan is an emerging aeronautics research triangle connecting Atlantic County’s aviation hub with Cape May’s UAS program and Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst Naval Air Station.

“You can start to see these connections forming,” Kyle said. “We have laid the foundation for an aerospace industry that will expand beyond Atlantic County and tie together the aerospace innovation center that we have here, the Joint Base, and what Cape May is doing.”

The research goes beyond the aircraft, which are electric or hybrid-electric and designed to be quieter. This includes placing automated equipment in airports and airfields, starting with simple mechanics like lawnmowers.

This simple automation will also reduce costs for airports.

“You have to control the grass because birds and animals live in it, and when they get to the end of the runway, they’re going to get in the way of the plane and they’re going to kill someone,” Chris Seher, a subject expert at the technology park, said. “So the amount of money that human and mowing grass costs is a big budget. If you can automate that, you save a lot of money.”

Seher said the new technology will also benefit the military.

“They set up portable, makeshift airports in deserts, on mountains, in combat zones, and they endanger military personnel who are out there mowing grass. Well, if you automate that, you can keep that flyer out of harm’s way and save money.”

Seher said they hope to have the first prototype lawnmowers at McGuire Base and ACY next spring.

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