Mon, May 20, 2024

Flying high from Augusta to Augusta!

Two new partnerships connected to Augusta Regional Airport were announced during Thursday’s Fifth Annual Innovation XChange Forum, including one that will introduce air taxis.

Bravo Air, the private air charter operator based at Augusta Regional, is working with SkyDrive, a Tokyo-based Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) company. The company builds a variety of drones, and recently began production of electric-powered aircraft.

Bravo Air has signed a letter of intent to purchase up to five of the aircraft.

“Stephanie Henson (Bravo Air Managing Partner) and I recently visited SkyDrive’s team in Japan to better foster the growth of our business partnership,” said Dann Standard, Bravo Air’s VP of Operations. “The time we spent there helped build a foundation for our partnership, allowed us to learn about their business culture and gain a better understanding of their operations.”

Courtesy: SkyDrive

SkyDrive’s aircraft can be used as a short-range air taxi.

“This is a compact, small aircraft. You can have up to three passengers including the pilot. So, one pilot and two passengers,” Yoshimi Yamamoto, SkyDrive Public Relations explained for ABD. “This can be the transportation for the last one mile. If people are traveling to let’s say downtown Augusta and arrive at Augusta Airport, they can use this aircraft to the final destination instead of going on the traffic road.”

Yamamoto said the air taxi has a range of nine miles on a full charge. It takes off and lands vertically and requires a small landing zone. The company anticipates developing a larger craft to hold the pilot and three passengers.

Delivery is expected in 2026. Both companies said Augusta Regional’s installation of a charging station for electric aircraft was instrumental in the agreement.

Airport Executive Director, Herbert Judon, Jr. looks on as (left to right) Mayor Garnett Johnson, Thad Adams from SRNL, and Aviation Commission Chairman, Dan Troutman sign a Memorandum of Understanding.

In the other announcement, Augusta Regional signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Savannah River National Lab for research and resource initiatives for AAM and Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS).

“This is an opportunity for us to continue to develop our competencies and capabilities in the airspace technology from UAS drones,” said Thad Adams, Deputy Associate Lab Director for Global Security. “But it’s also a chance for us to take what components we currently have and partner with the airport to provide the right kinds of testing environments. So, there will be two fronts where we can test those technologies, one at the airport, but also potentially at the Savannah River Site.”

Adams added this partnership is key to getting the lab involved in the community.

“As we move forward, taking the talents and the expertise that has been invested in by the nation at the laboratory and taking it into the community so that they can do additional work for the community as one of our tenants.”

Projects developed locally will have benefits nationwide when they are shared through the 16 other labs operated by the Department of Energy.

The one-day forum focused on UAS, AAM, and associated cybersecurity issues.

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