The aerospace sector stands on the brink of transformation as Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) takes flight. These cutting-edge technologies will not only integrate new forms of transportation into our current mobility ecosystem but present significant opportunities for economic growth. Perhaps most importantly, the success of AAM aircraft in the real world hinges on the development of robust infrastructure and fully integrated logistics systems.
The Importance of Infrastructure
AAM aircraft, primarily encompassing highly automated uncrewed electrically powered aircraft, represent a new paradigm in air transportation. Their commercialization will create a future where goods and passengers are transported with unprecedented efficiency and reduced environmental impact. However, challenges like government alignment, infrastructure readiness (like power sources and charging stations), and cautious regulatory bodies, pose significant hurdles.
Today, AAM technology is being developed by traditional aerospace companies as well as startups around the globe. But commercializing AAM aircraft requires more than innovation. It requires the development and integration of critical infrastructure that supports the operational ecosystem for future electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft and along with crew-optional or unmanned aircraft systems. AAM-specific infrastructure includes multimodal compatibility, 5G connectivity, sensory systems needed for communications, navigation, and surveillance, and a skilled workforce that can support this rapidly evolving industry.
Innovation Beyond Infrastructure
Until now, the AAM industry has kept its focus on innovation, but with commercialization quickly approaching, companies have begun shifting their attention to air mobility infrastructure and ecosystems that will continue to support them as they scale. Places like the AllianceTexas Mobility Innovation Zone (MIZ) are uniquely positioned to support the AAM industry and serve as a catalyst for overcoming existing barriers. The MIZ is a first-of-its-kind, real-world ecosystem that brings cutting-edge technologies to commercialization at a faster rate, offering a unique set of air and surface logistic assets, including Perot Field Fort Worth Alliance Airport, BNSF intermodal hub, and a flight test center in addition to unparalleled access to resources and partnerships that are critical to scaling and commercializing AAM technologies.
Manna Drone Delivery, an Ireland-based drone delivery company, entered the North American market placing its first commercial operation within the MIZ, benefits from the robust infrastructure of the MIZ. For innovative companies like Manna to thrive, they require a forward-thinking and supportive environment where public-private partnerships are possible, and community members are receptive to their work as much as they require the physical infrastructure needed to test and scale. Thanks to a collaboration between Manna and Hillwood, Manna completed its first flight in the U.S., launching from a delivery hub located inside the MIZ last October. The Manna Aero drone delivered food, beverages, and candy from national and local retailers to Pecan Square, a Hillwood residential community. The on-demand approach to last-mile delivery is just one of many commercial drone innovations happening at the MIZ and will eventually scale to include a select number of Hillwood’s residential developments in North Texas. As part of the MIZ, Manna has been able to showcase the viability of AAM in a real-world setting and leverage the MIZ’s strong partnership with public sectors to accelerate its journey toward commercialization.
Recently, the joint NASA/USAF Agility Prime program successfully installed a high-bandwidth air-to-ground and air-to-air communications network at the MIZ. This initiative is a collaborative effort of the North Texas Cohort, including the Helicopter Institute, which provided the surrogate eVTOL aircraft, Unmanned Experts (UMEX), Advanced Air Mobility Texas (AAMTEX), and Hillwood at the AllianceTexas Flight Test Center. A collaboration with NASA and other partners in 2024 aims to transform Fort Worth and Tarrant County into a premier Urban Testbed for Advanced Air Mobility demonstrations. This ambitious endeavor will leverage the high-bandwidth network to ensure the MIZ remains at the forefront of urban air mobility innovation, setting new aerial communication and operation standards.
The AllianceTexas Mobility Innovation Zone Ecosystem
Due to its potential economic impact and national security implications, the United States has prioritized achieving AAM leadership. The future of air mobility, which includes unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) and other commercial drone applications, made substantial progress in 2023. Companies around the world are pressing forward with ambitious plans to create exciting new aircraft and technologies while the AAM sector generated $4.5 billion in disclosed funding last year, signaling its continued momentum.
The MIZ is an ideal hub for AAM innovation, attracting mobility visionaries, logistics companies willing to integrate AAM into their business, and infrastructure companies willing to build and establish aircraft corridors and the associated hardware needed to fully commercialize. Its unique mixed-use ecosystem offers a critical advantage within its vibrant community which nurtures both personal and professional growth, making AllianceTexas a magnet for talent crucial to the AAM industry. Additionally, the rich legacy and expertise of Hillwood, with its deep roots in aviation and innovation, provide invaluable guidance in navigating the intricate landscape of AAM commercialization, further cementing the MIZ as a pivotal player in the industry’s progression.
The journey towards commercialization and full integration of AAM aircraft and logistics systems is complex and multi-faceted. The MIZ stands at the forefront, demonstrating that with the right infrastructure, strategic partnerships, and a supportive ecosystem, the barriers to AAM commercialization can be overcome. While the adoption of automated commercial drones and other uncrewed aircraft might be a graduated evolution, the efforts and progress at the MIZ serve as a global beacon, guiding the way toward a new era in air mobility.
When it comes to electric vehicle production, a profound opportunity is emerging that promises to reshape the global supply chain. Key to seizing this opportunity is re-shoring critical magnetic materials to the U.S., a move that is vital for the future of electric vehicles, drones, intelligent transportation systems and the electrification of smart technologies. By creating a vertically integrated magnet manufacturing industry in America, it’s possible to build and accelerate the next generation of mobility and defense technologies and strengthen the supply chain.
Fortifying the Supply Chain
Bringing rare earth magnet manufacturing back to American soil is essential to transforming the supply chain. Rare earths serve as fundamental building blocks of the modern economy, enabling trillions of dollars in global GDP via a wide range of clean energy, information technology, defense, and industrial applications. According to the new market research report “Rare-Earth Metals Market – Global Forecast to 2026, published by MarketsandMarkets™, the rare earth market is expected to grow to $9.6 billion USD by 2026. Beyond the economic benefits, re-shoring this industry will also re-shore jobs, strengthen national security and capture a portion of the global magnetics market China is currently dominating.
Strategically Positioned for Growth
MP Materials, a leader in the production of rare earth metals, is working to close the economic and national security gap related to rare earth materials. In 2022, they commenced the construction of a first-of-its-kind rare earth magnetics factory, which set the stage for building a fully domestic U.S. supply chain. The strategic location of the factory within the AllianceTexas Mobility Innovation Zone (MIZ) speaks volumes about the need for a consistent and trusted rare earth supply chain when it comes to the future of mobility and electric car technology. Magnets are the linchpin of electric vehicle production and supply chain innovation in the U.S. According to a report by independent research firm Adamas Intelligence, the demand for magnets is projected to triple by 2035, making the factory’s presence at the MIZ pivotal to innovations in aerospace, defense, clean energy and emerging technologies. The company’s large-scale rare-earth element mine is in southeastern California. It is the only integrated rare mining and processing facility of its kind in the Western Hemisphere. MP Materials’ new location at the MIZ will enable it to convert raw materials into finished goods, restoring an end-to-end supply chain in the United States.
The MIZ ecosystem is uniquely suited to foster innovation in the mobility sector. With transportation infrastructure deeply integrated into the landscape, a highly skilled and reliable workforce, and abundant industrial capabilities, the MIZ was an ideal choice for MP Materials. Furthermore, the MIZ is zoned for heavy industrial, which streamlined the permitting process and allowed MP Materials to accelerate construction – slow permitting is a common challenge of operating in certain states in comparison to Texas.
Commencing in late 2023, MP Materials will begin producing materials at its new factory for General Motors EV program. The facility will produce magnets powering approximately 500,000 electric vehicle motors per year, with potential to scale. The project will also create approximately 150 high-skill jobs and 1,300 indirect jobs.
The AllianceTexas Mobility Innovation Zone Ecosystem
The MIZ offers a unique and comprehensive ecosystem, providing mobility visionaries with unparalleled access to infrastructure, resources, and partnerships. This ecosystem is instrumental in scaling and commercializing new technologies, and MP Materials’ presence further cements its potential.
The journey to reshape the logistics industry and the global supply chain has begun. By re-shoring rare earth magnets to the U.S., we are not only creating economic opportunities but also strengthening national security and ensuring a sustainable future for smart technologies and intelligent transportation systems. As electrification continues to power our world, the importance of innovative ecosystems like the MIZ will be central to its success.
Ready to take the next step and push mobility into the future? Explore the boundless opportunities awaiting your business at AllianceTexas Mobility Innovation Zone.
In today’s interconnected and globalized world, supply chains are critical in ensuring the smooth flow of goods and services across regions and countries. However, various and often unexpected challenges have hindered the creation of a seamless supply chain model, leading to disruptions and inefficiencies that adversely affect economies and communities. To overcome these obstacles and build a resilient supply chain for the future, cities, and businesses need to embrace public-private partnerships while leveraging cutting-edge technology and infrastructure to create more intelligent supply chain innovations.
Visibility Improves Efficiency
The current supply chain system faces significant bottlenecks and challenges that impact its efficiency. On average, every 3.7 years, major supply chain disruptions occur. From conflict and trade disputes to natural disasters and cyberattacks, disruptions can take a month or more to correct. The impact creates delays and congestion that lingers, but a lack of real-time visibility is a major reason supply chain operations can’t rebound quickly. To achieve resilience in the supply chain means having the ability to withstand disruptions, no matter what unforeseen circumstances occur, and quickly recover while maintaining seamless operations.
The US spends $2 trillion on shipping costs annually–70% of which is attributed to transportation–but intermodal rail and autonomous technology have the upward potential to reduce cost and greenhouse emissions by over 65%. Autonomous technology specifically has the potential to reduce drayage costs by up to 70% compared to traditional models that heavily depend on human capital. To achieve resiliency and sustainability in the supply chain, embracing advanced technology and interconnectivity is crucial. Regional, state, and national leaders must have the ability to leverage real-time tracking capabilities to monitor goods and services from departure points to final destinations. This level of visibility not only facilitates proactive decision making, but also minimizes risks, and elevates overall supply chain performance. As the market and demand continue to evolve, the need for integrated communication and supply chain innovation has never been greater.
The Port of the Future
Smart Ports are more productive, sustainable transport hubs offering fully integrated logistics systems that monitor the entire journey of goods, identify challenges, optimize solutions in real time, and function as an information-sharing platform between a variety of logistic actors. But their impact goes beyond mere efficiency improvements to deliver more holistic, long-term insights that improve and converge both the physical and digital worlds to provide a better quality of life for the companies, communities, and people it serves.
The AllianceTexas Smart Port, a $250 million public-private partnership, emerges as a solution that empowers the North Texas supply chain to function efficiently even during emergencies. By leveraging integrated communication, technology, augmentable microgrid solutions, and calculated surface infrastructure, the AllianceTexas Smart Port offers a one-of-a-kind ecosystem, providing a 24/7 transportation model that supports continuous logistics movement without interruption. The AllianceTexas Smart Port is strategically connected to a network of North Texas-managed corridors utilizing technology lanes to dynamically manage freight pathways across the DFW metroplex. On a state and national level, it resides along the 865-mile Texas Connected Freight Corridors, including critical border-to-border corridors like I-35 and I-45, making it possible to seamlessly move millions of shipments and track goods between Canada and Mexico more efficiently and securely than ever before.
With supply chain innovations like the AllianceTexas Smart Port in place, North Texas can efficiently handle complex, large-scale distribution challenges posed by the ever-increasing demands of manufacturing and e-commerce fulfillment companies. The insight-driven technology also serves as a safeguard against future unpredictability, such as global pandemics, providing invaluable protection to businesses and communities to secure sustainability in the supply chain regionally and far beyond.
The Case for Smart Ports
The benefits of the AllianceTexas Smart Port extend to businesses, consumers and local communities. For businesses, the Smart Port is a game-changer. It minimizes supply chain interruptions and enhances logistics efficiency, allowing companies to optimize their operations and ensure seamless product movement. Moreover, the Smart Port fosters resiliency and sustainability in the supply chain, reducing the vulnerability of businesses to disruptions caused by external factors.
On the consumer side, implementing a Smart Port ensures safer, less congested transportation routes, resulting in faster delivery times and enhanced access to goods and services. Additionally, the real-time tracking capabilities facilitate the timely delivery of critical medicines, vaccines, and disaster relief supplies, addressing health and community needs with greater responsiveness. Local communities also experience the benefits of a Smart Port, which escalates economic development and investment while reducing traffic congestion and greenhouse gas emissions caused by alternatively powered vehicles, warehouses, and conscientious infrastructure.
AllianceTexas, with its existing transportation infrastructure, proves to be an ideal location for the Smart Port. Surrounded by over 70 million square feet of industrial Class A development, it offers a strategic thoroughfare for thousands of long-haul trucks daily, alongside accommodating the needs of two million area residents.
At the Gateway to a New Logistics Era
Attaining sustainable resilience in the supply chain begins with the seamless integration of technology and infrastructure. The AllianceTexas Smart Port sets a powerful example of how regional, state, and national leaders can work together to create a resilient supply chain model that scales not only the North Texas region but also has a far-reaching impact across the world. Embracing smart logistics hubs like the Smart Port is the path to a future where supply chains are robust, adaptable, and able to withstand any challenges that come their way. Investing in technology-driven solutions can pave the way for a truly resilient and efficient supply chain that benefits businesses, communities, and consumers alike.