The Purdue University Airport opened in 1930 as the first university-owned airport and today remains one of only a handful of airports still owned and operated by a university. Encompassing over 500 acres, the airport is the second busiest airport in the State based on the multitude of activities associated with pilot training, university related aviation needs, private and charter flights, and other educational and innovation programs. The airport is planning a terminal upgrade and expansion to establish commuter air service between West Lafayette and Indianapolis.
Established earlier this year through a collaboration between Ericsson, Saab, PRF, and Purdue, the L2L platform at the Purdue airport is comprised of a private 5G wireless network to enable advanced aviation solutions and an airport operations platform and a safety monitoring platform provided by Saab called Aerobahn and SAFE. Saab wanted to evaluate their respective platforms within a wireless environment for future enhancements and potentially other use-case areas outside FAA controlled airspace (i.e., autonomous drones). Saab is working with Purdue on a variety of other innovation and educational programs to leverage this asset including the potential build-out of a digital twins of major international airports for training and simulation on the Aerobahn and SAFE platforms.
The Purdue University Airport environment is an ideal setting to evaluate and test several areas of innovation including airport operations management, safety and security, advanced air mobility (e.g., autonomous VTOL), and sustainable aviation (e.g., eVTOL and eCTOL). Like the establishment of the Technology Leadership Advisory Board (TLAB) for the DPD connected community environment, PRF is actively working with Purdue faculty to create a complementary set of companies and aviation partners to develop a future of aviation accelerator.