West Virginia Poised to Lead in Advanced Air Mobility According to Recently Released Study

Vertx Partners has announced the release of a groundbreaking Deloitte study assessing West Virginia’s potential to become a hub for Advanced Air Mobility (AAM). The comprehensive study reveals key insights into the booming AAM market in the United States and positions West Virginia as a strategic player in this transformative industry.

Funded through a Congressionally Directed Spending (CDS) grant, the report delves into the emerging AAM industry set to revolutionize the transport of goods, services, and people. Forecasted to contribute $115 billion to the U.S. economy by 2035 and create over 280,000 high-paying jobs, AAM presents a significant opportunity for West Virginia’s economic and societal growth. While many national studies on AAM concentrate on urban applications, this report uniquely explores the potential and challenges of implementing AAM in rural settings.

Vertx team members, including President Sean Frisbee and VP of Operations Mary Cook, presented key findings of the study to state and local leaders in the Governor’s Conference Room on Monday. “This is a great opportunity for the state,” says Frisbee. “West Virginia has the chance to lead an industry and build out the template that will be used not only for rural West Virginians but also for rural America, as well.”

Mike Graney, Executive Director of the West Virginia Department of Economic Development, echoed the sentiment, stating, “AAM in West Virginia means job creation. AAM means workforce development. This study proves that we’re ready to take the next step in adopting these innovations.”

The Mingo County Redevelopment Authority (MCRA) is one organization helping lead the effort to bring AAM to the Mountain State. The CDS includes an AAM K-16 curriculum initiative led by the MCRA and Vertx Partners’ Randy Hefner. This initiative is cited as an example of West Virginia’s current AAM ecosystem and is considered a crucial component of its long-term AAM adoption strategy. The program includes AAM curriculum for K-12, Community and Technical Colleges, higher education, and the existing workforce, and promises to lead to new workforce opportunities.

“Mingo County is proud to be taking center stage in leading AAM operations in West Virginia,” says Leasha Johnson, Executive Director of the MCRA. “Our partnership with Vertx Partners has already guaranteed that we have a jumpstart on much of the nation in this field.”

Key Context:

● Industry Overview: Advanced Air Mobility is a system of transportation encompassing drones and electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft, providing essential access to underserved areas and creating specialized, high-paying jobs.

● West Virginia’s AAM Potential: With its strategic location in the heart of the East Coast, rugged landscape, and local demand for accessible transportation, the study identifies West Virginia as a potential driver and early adopter of AAM.

Four Pillars & Future Steps:

The study assesses four persistent factors that determine a locale’s potential to capitalize on AAM. After assessment, the study recommends action items to build on the existing pillars.

Here are a few of the key takeaways from the Deloitte study:

  • Ecosystem: The report highlights West Virginia’s distinct ecosystem that could enable
  • AAM with a strategic, state government-led approach that capitalizes on existing assets.
  • Funding: The study recommends leveraging existing federal and state funding
  • mechanisms with a call for additional dedicated funding for AAM activities.
  • Policy: The study acknowledges existing policies and legislative measures supportive of
  • AAM. The report recommends the creation of an AAM focal point within the state
  • necessary to become stewards of policy and funding, and to leverage new legislation to
  • support and attract the industry.
  • Infrastructure: The state’s initiatives for communication system interoperability and
  • investments in mobile airspace monitoring systems are highlighted. Expanding these
  • initiatives supports versatile and transportable AAM test environments.

The promise of an AAM revolution is no longer on the horizon; it’s in our skies. West Virginia stands on the threshold of a vast frontier, and the study provides knowledge to shape the future of statewide AAM operations.

To delve deeper into West Virginia’s AAM potential and explore more detailed findings, Vertx Partners invites you to read the full study here.