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Winchester, VA – June 28, 2024 — The Winchester Regional Airport (OKV) was selected as the sole general aviation airport nationwide to participate in a study, “Airports as Energy Nodes,” or ÆNode for short. ÆNode is an activity within NASA’s Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). The study seeks to learn whether airports can provide the energy required to support future aviation operations in a scalable, affordable and sustainable way that provides value to aviation and community stakeholders.

Key airport partners that will support the study include Rappahannock Electric Cooperative, Delta Airport Consultants, Frederick County Planning Department, and Virginia Department of Aviation.

“We have been proactive about preparing for the future of aviation,” states Airport Authority Chairman Bill Pifer. “Our selection by NASA and NREL validates the hard work our team has done to position the region for advanced air mobility concepts like those explored in this study.”

That hard work includes the construction of a replacement terminal building, nicknamed the “Airport Terminal of the Future,” and associated apron project. Both are set to become operational this fall. The terminal prepares the airport for advanced air mobility with fiber-optic data connectivity, 3-phase electricity, onsite backup power generation and passenger amenities to support air taxi services. The innovative parking apron was designed to accommodate a wide spectrum of aircraft simultaneously, including concrete hardstands to support large jets, and infrastructure for future aircraft that use electricity- or hydrogen-based propulsion systems.

“The Winchester Regional Airport is an ideal fit for our study,” says NASA Advanced Concepts Group Lead Nick Borer, PhD. “In addition to their forward-looking approach to operations, OKV is representative of many general aviation airports across the nation that can leverage its robust infrastructure for significant economic and societal benefit.”

The ÆNode study is funded for 24 months, and a final publicly available report is expected by early 2026. “We are thrilled to work alongside the global thought leaders in aerospace and energy to realize the full promise of advanced air mobility for our

region.” said Winchester Regional Airport Executive Director Nick Sabo.

“Rappahannock Electric Cooperative prides itself on working with members to find solutions that power a brighter future,” said Peter Muhoro, Chief Strategy, Technology and Innovation Officer. “We are excited to serve as a partner in this pioneering project.”

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