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      Could drone crash affect local plans for unmanned aircraft?

      The 174th Attack Wing in Syracuse is asking the Air Force for assistance in locating the wreckage of an MQ-9 Reaper drone that crashed into Lake Ontario Tuesday. An initial search of the area in the eastern portion of the lake turned up nothing. The drone fell into Lake Ontario during a routine training mission.

      T hough the Reaper drone was being operated by personnel at the 174th Attack Wing in Syracuse, it took off from an air field at Fort Drum near Watertown. The 174th has an application before the Federal Aviation Administration to move that operation out of Fort Drum and consolidate everything at Hancock Field in Syracuse."

      C ritics claim unmanned drones have a higher rate of accidents compared to other military aircraft , but A irport Commissioner Christina Callahan says that she is not concerned about whether drones can be flown safely out of Hancock. If the F.A.A. approves the application, Callahan says she intends to have discussions with the 174th. "In light of what happened, we want to have additional conversations with the Guard. I think it's a little premature to make any assumptions about anything." Callahan told CNY Central's Jim Kenyon.

      NUAIR, a coalition of community and business leaders also has an application before the F.A.A.. NUAIR wants a large region of Upstate New York and Massachusetts declared as a test site for the research and development of unmanned aircraft for civilian purposes. NUAIR claims such a designation could provide thousands of jobs. Deb Warner of NUAIR says "this incident neither detracts nor deters NUAIR from our efforts..." She added: "Safety is the reason the F.A.A. is establishing the test sites."

      F or now the Reaper drones are grounded until investigators can determined what caused the crash..