We may start seeing unmanned drones in the skies over Central New York in the next few weeks.
The Northeast UAS Airspace Integration Research Alliance (NUAIR Alliance) and Griffiss International Airport in Rome were issued a Certificate of Authorization by the FAA to operate unmanned agriculture drones in Central and Western New York.
The first test flights will take place after an independent safety board, established by the NUAIR Alliance, creates a flight plan. They expect this to take about two weeks. The initial test flights are on behalf of Cornell Cooperative Extension.
??I??m pleased the FAA has approved NUAIR and Griffiss International Airport??s first official Certificate of Authorization to test unmanned aircraft at our designated FAA Test Site,?? said Oneida County Executive Anthony J. Picente Jr. ??I congratulate Larry Brinker and the entire NUAIR Team, which Oneida County government is proud to be a member. This is the beginning of endless opportunities for NUAIR, Griffiss International Airport and Oneida County. We stand at the forefront of exciting new cutting edge research and technology as a new industry of commercialized unmanned aircraft and unmanned aerial systems can be tested and manufactured here in Central New York.??
The drones being flown from the site will be the Lancaster Hawkeye Mk III; a small fixed-wing aircraft. They will be equipped with visual, thermal, multi-spectral and video sensors. These sensors will be used to evaluate field crops, collecting data on several conditions, including insect activity, crop growth and disease spread.
??After close to a year of pushing to bring unmanned aircraft test flights to the Mohawk Valley, we are now cleared for takeoff,?? said Senator Charles Schumer. ??I am pleased that the FAA has agreed to issue the first Certificate of Authorization, the critical missing link to get NUAIR and Griffiss International Airport??s first test flight off the ground, and I cannot think of a better organization to kick things off than Cornell Cooperative Extension. I am confident that this will be the first of many more test flight approvals in the near future, and I will continue to push the FAA to move as quickly as possible because these test flights have the potential to bring thousands of jobs and millions of dollars in economic revenue to the entire region over the next few years.??
The Griffiss NUAIR site is one of only six in the nation, and was chosen from 25 applicants. In total, the sites are expected to add more than 2,600 new jobs and could bring nearly $700 million in economic impact to New York and Massachusetts by 2017.
Several local and national organizations are partnering with Griffiss and NUAIR, including Syracuse University, RIT, Lockheed Martin, MIT and Clarkson University, among others.