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Atlantic County poised to be among leaders in new aviation technology

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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 ferrying people and goods between cities and communities via vertical-landing electric planes.

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 undertaken for the National Aerospace Research and Technology Park in Egg Harbor Township, which sees new technology as a job and income generator for South Jersey.

“Advanced Air Mobility gives us a one-of-a-kind economic development opportunity with statewide benefits that starts here in Atlantic County,” said Howard Kyle, president and CEO of the National Aerospace Research and Technology Park. “This will create technology-based jobs and help attract aviation-related businesses.

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

The Atlantic County-based research and technology park is helping lay the groundwork to bring new industry to the county, in hopes of solving the economic crisis and establishing the state as a leader in air mobility advanced, or AAM.

“We have a critical need for economic diversification because when the casino industry collapsed a few years ago it had a devastating effect,” Kyle said. “We had an economic study done, identified five sectors, and the most promising for immediate gains 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 make operations possible.

Indirect jobs that would manufacture the critical components and services needed for the new vertical-flight aircraft would increase by 4,936, according to the Deloitte Consulting report.

According to the study, an additional 5,456 new jobs would be created to meet the needs of the new workforce, called induced jobs, while another 12,208 jobs are expected to appear in tourism, insurance, law firms and real estate.

Advanced Air Mobility technology will not only help create technology-based jobs, but should also attract the attention of aviation-related businesses, Kyle said.

Joby Aviation, a Santa Cruz, Calif.-based aviation company that develops vertical take-off and landing aircraft, selected Atlantic County as the development and research location, Kyle said.

Deloitte also found that Advanced Air Mobility will create tax revenue for New Jersey from newly created jobs. The study estimated that the tax benefits would reach $152 million per year.

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 hub that includes resources such as the FAA’s William J. Hughes Technical Center, Atlantic City International Airport, and 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 incorporate AAM aircraft and unmanned aircraft systems (UAS).

“In addition to that, he will have 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 Aerospace Institute are also technology park partners.

Part of the plan also includes an emerging aeronautical research triangle – connecting the Atlantic County Aviation Center to the Cape May UAS program and the Joint Air Force Base McGuire–Dix–Lakehurst Naval Air Station.

“You can start to see those bonds forming,” Kyle said. “We’ve laid the foundation for an aviation industry that extends beyond Atlantic County and connects the hub of aviation innovation we have here, Common Base, and what Cape May does.”

The research goes further than airplanes, which run on electric or hybrid-electric power and are designed to be quieter. This also includes the placement of automated devices in airports and on airfields, starting with simple mechanisms like lawn mowers.

This simple automation will also reduce costs for airports.

“You have to control the grass because birds and animals live there, and if they’re at the end of the runway, they’re going to interfere with the plane and kill someone,” Chris Seher, an expert subject with the park technology, said. “So the amount of money it costs for the man and the grass cut is a big budget. If you can automate that, you’re going to save a lot of money.

Seher said the new technology will also benefit the military.

“They’re setting up portable, temporary airports in deserts, on mountains, in combat zones, and they’ve got soldiers in danger who have to mow the grass. Well, if you automate that, you can keep that airman or airwoman out of harm’s way and save some money.

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

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