Flying cars? New technology in Ohio may revolutionize transportation

SPRINGFIELD, Ohio — When you hear flying cars may be coming soon, you may picture a scene from the Jetsons or Harry Potter.

But as our sister station News Center 7 WHIO-TV discovered, that’s not the case, as they got a behind-the-scenes show to see how Ohio technology may one day revolutionize transportation.

>> Next-gen aircraft on display at Springfield airport as companies prepare for the future

The flying car is actually not a car at all – it’s an aircraft called E-VTOL, which stands for Electric Vertical Take Off and Landing.

Austin Eggers and Harley Simones work for Beta Technologies, which is making a version of the E-VTOL aircraft called the Alia-250.

It’s all carbon fiber with a 50-foot wingspan and seating for up to six passenger. It runs purely on electric – no fuel. It can take off and land like a normal airplane on a runway or lift off and come down like a helicopter.

Beta is one of several aerospace companies set up at the Springfield-Beckley Municipal Airport, about 35 minutes northeast of Dayton.

>> GALLERY: Next-gen aircraft on display in Springfield

“Another reason is you look at Springfield and when you look around right now, it’s more of an urban airport. There’s not a ton of congestion, so the companies like that – the fact that there’s not a ton of eyes on them and it’s not very active airspace,” said Micah Newburg, who handles business development for aerospace and defense for the Dayton Development Coalition.

“They can do their research and development, and again then the ultimate goal is for hopefully having manufacturing,” said Springfield-Beckley Municipal Airport Manager Seth Timmerman.

Since the airport already has recharging stations, Beta employees also said the location helps them have the potential to charge their aircraft in less than an hour, then fly 250 nautical miles.

At first, a Beta spokesperson said the company will allow licensed pilots to fly, but it is now working on an unmanned version, meaning there will be no pilot.

Another company at the Springfield airport called Kitthawk is starting there, and working on another that will allow people to fly with just an hour of training and no pilot’s license.

And as far as what’s to stop one of these aircrafts from falling from the sky “A lot of smart guys in BETA make sure that this aircraft is redundant,” said Eggers. “We say it has four motors on top. Really there’s two and a redundant one in each motor, so that level of safety isn’t found even on today’s aircraft.

Newburg told News Center 7 state and federal funding, plus collaboration with the Air Force Research Lab and Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, helped bring the E-VTOL to the Miami Valley.