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Legislature Considers Bringing New Air Transportation Tech To W.Va.


Members of the West Virginia legislature met during an interim meeting Monday to discuss potential legislation that would promote economic development for Advanced Air Mobility in the state.

The concept includes the use of autonomous, low-altitude aircraft similar to drones to transport people and cargo. Industry leaders talked with the Joint Commission on Economic Development about future budget and infrastructure plans for the technology, potentially opening the state up to small businesses in the field.

Sean Frisbee, president of Vertx Partners, says West Virginia is an ideal place for the technology to be tested. The aircraft could help those in rural areas have better access to essential goods.

“I really believe that rural America has an outsize benefit to be gained with Advanced Air Mobility. Many of our elderly in the rural areas are unable to pick up their pharmaceuticals, for example,” Frisbee said.

This meeting comes after the legislature passed two bills during the 2022 regular session promoting its development: House Bill 4667, which prohibits cities, towns, municipalities, or counties from creating restrictions on advanced aircraft or systems, and House Bill 4827, which promotes the development of public-use vertiports (which work as helipads do for helicopters) as state policy.

Discussions with the legislature continued today as companies like Vertx look for funding to bring the technology to West Virginia.

“You’ve got public, private, nonprofit, academic entities that are involved in this. So this is this really complex system that no one entity owns. No one entity is going to be the leader, there’s going to be multiple leaders, and we believe West Virginia can be one of those leaders,” Frisbee said.

Economists are expecting Advanced Air Mobility to be a $100 billion industry by 2035. The industry is expected to add roughly 280,000 jobs to the nation’s workforce and $80 billion in tax revenue federally.