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December 05, 2023 | Tom Ballard

New ReConnecTN coalition unveiled

It is a group leveraging the use of regional airports, distributed electric propulsion, battery technology, and automation to address the mobility challenges.

A new initiative focused on bringing multimodal sustainable regional transportation to the Volunteer State was announced on Tuesday as the two-day Tennessee Smart Mobility Expo got underway at the Music City Center in Nashville.

Named ReConnecTN and pronounced as “reconnectin,” it is a multi-entity, cross-disciplinary coalition committed to working together to pull passenger and cargo transportation into the third dimension by leveraging the use of regional airports, distributed electric propulsion, battery technology, and automation.

The effort is led by Whisper Aero, the fast-growing next generation propulsion company that has operations in Nashville and Crossville; JSX, a provider of “hop-on jet service” that includes Nashville; Reliable Robotics, a company focused on fully automated operation of regional cargo aircraft; and other Tennessee mobility leaders. Together, the partners believe these efforts can position Tennessee at the forefront of innovation in the mobility, aviation, and energy sectors. The goal is to provide Tennessee residents with fast, affordable, hassle-free travel with new access to economic opportunities, statewide connectivity, and energy resilience.

“Until now, Tennessee has been recognized as a state of bustling cities and rural retreats, with only traditional transportation methods to connect them all,” the news release announcing the ReConnectTN effort explained. “For a state that spans a length of 440 miles, traveling across Tennessee can be time consuming, and very few air routes currently exist to efficiently and affordably connect the state. Regional air mobility is increasingly seen as a potential solution to this challenge, but those within Tennessee have sought a united path forward.”

The ReConnecTN coalition has been formed to tackle five focus areas critical to the success of regional air mobility:

  • Aviation innovations;
  • Existing airports;
  • More mobility;
  • Economic growth; and
  • Energy resilience.

In June, coalition partner Whisper Aero detailed specifics of these enablement areas in its paper, “The Business Case for Regional Air Mobility at Scale.” Through careful review of this paper and a review of approaches in the urban air mobility space, it’s clear that no organization exists today that can tackle the challenge of Regional Air Mobility alone. Coalition members believe that a focused public-partnership team can take meaningful steps towards realizing the vision together. 

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