BYONCE TYUS for the media
New Jersey could emerge as a leader in a growing new field of aviation technology that could one day lead to air taxis transporting people and goods between cities and communities in electric vertical-landing aircraft.
According to a recent study by Deloitte Consulting LLP, the new technology, dubbed advanced air mobility, is expected to generate millions in tax revenue and create thousands of new jobs in Atlantic County over the next 15 years.
The research was conducted for Egg Harbor Township’s National Aerospace Research and Technology Park, which sees new technology as a job and income generator in South Jersey.
“Advanced air mobility provides us with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for economic development and benefits across the state, starting with Atlantic County,” said Howard Kyle, president and CEO of the National Aerospace Research and Technology Park. It will create tech employment-based jobs and will help attract aviation-related companies. “
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Kell said the new aviation technology being developed is in the early stages of planning and development, but is moving rapidly.
The research and technology park in Atlantic County is helping lay the groundwork for bringing new industries into the county, hoping to resolve the economic crisis and make the state a leader in advanced air mobility (AAM).
“We desperately need to diversify our economy because when the casino industry was in trouble a few years ago, it had a devastating effect,” Kyle said. “We completed an economic study that identified five industries, and the industry with the greatest promise for immediate returns is aviation.”
According to the study, growth in the industry will create four categories of jobs: direct, indirect, induced and catalytic.
AAM expects to create 3,079 direct jobs needed to make operations possible.
According to a Deloitte Consulting report, indirect jobs in the manufacture of critical components and services required for new vertical-flying aircraft will increase by 4,936.
According to the study, another 5,456 new jobs will be created to meet the needs of the new workforce, known as induction jobs, while another 12,208 jobs are expected to emerge around tourism, insurance, law firm and real estate jobs .
Advanced air mobility technology will not only help create technology-based jobs, but is expected to attract the attention of aviation-related companies, Kyle said.
Joby Aviation, the Santa Cruz, Calif.-based airline that develops vertical take-off and landing aircraft, has named Atlantic County as a place for development and research, Kyle said.
Deloitte also found that Advanced Air Mobility will generate tax revenue for New Jersey through the newly created jobs. The study estimates the annual tax benefit will reach $152 million.
According to the study, New Jersey is an “economically viable” place due to its proximity to Philadelphia and New York.
The county also has an aviation hub that includes resources such as the FAA William J. Hughes Technology Center, Atlantic City International Airport, and a research park.
Kyle said the Atlantic County Economic Center has partnered with the National Aerospace Research and Technology Park to develop a “state-of-the-art maintenance and repair academy” that will combine AAM and Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) aircraft.
“On top of that, it’s going to be augmented and virtual reality training,” Kyle said. “The Air Force signed a (memorandum of understanding) to participate in the academy’s planning.”
Academic institutions such as Rowan University, Atlantic County Institute of Technology, Atlantic Cape Community College, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and the National Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics are also partners in the science park.
Part of the plan also includes an emerging aviation research triangle — linking Atlantic County’s aviation hub with Cape May’s UAS program and the Naval Air Station at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst.
“You can start to see these connections forming,” Kyle said. “We’ve laid the groundwork for expanding beyond Atlantic County to the aviation industry, tying together the Aviation Innovation Center we have here, the Joint Base, and what Cape May is doing.”
The research goes one step further than airplanes, which run on electric or hybrid power and are designed to be quieter. It also includes placing automated equipment at airports and airfields, starting with simple mechanical devices such as lawn mowers.
This simple automation will also reduce costs for airports.
“You have to control the grass because birds and animals live in it, and if they’re at the end of the runway, they’ll block the plane and kill someone,” said Chris Seher, an expert on themed tech parks. “So the cost of labor and mowing is a huge budget. If you could automate it, you would save a lot of money.”
The new technology will also benefit the military, Seher said.
“They built portable makeshift airfields in deserts, mountains, war zones, and they put military men at risk, they had to mow the grass outside. Well, if you automate it, you can keep that pilot or female pilot out of harm’s way and save funds.”
They hope to have the first mower prototypes at the McGuire base and ACY next spring, Seher said.