FAA approves BVLOS corridor initial segment in New York

The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) New York Unmanned Aircraft has approved the first segment of the 50-mile Unmanned Aircraft Corridor being developed between Syracuse and Rome by Oneida County, Northeast UAS Airspace Integration Research (NUAIR) and New York State. The approval allows unmanned aircraft testing beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) without the need for ground-based observers at the Griffiss International Airport Test Site in Rome.

The eight-by-four-mile section of airspace that was approved for these flights is between Griffiss International Airport and the New York State Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Services State Preparedness Training Center in Oriskany. The strategic selection of this airspace within New York’s 50-mile UAS corridor opens the door for future advancements of the corridor and the continued cooperation between NUAIR, the Test Site and New York State agencies.

Current FAA drone regulations require operators to keep their drones in line of sight unless they have approval from the FAA. To date, NUAIR and the New York UAS Test Site have conducted over 2,500 test flights but required multiple people in the field to have a visual line of sight for the aircraft. By receiving BVLOS flight approval, the UAS Test Site will no longer require those observers in the field as NUAIR and the Test Site have proved to the FAA that the proper safety measures and technologies are in place to fly unmanned aircraft beyond line of sight safely.

NUAIR CEO Michael Hertzendorf said: “The ability to fly with this new authority will help develop and advance many aspects of an air traffic management system for unmanned aircraft. In order for us to fully employ, operate and unlock the true potential of unmanned systems and achieve a reality where drones are conducting routine missions such as inspecting power lines, protecting critical infrastructure, or delivering medical supplies, we need to ensure the proper safety elements are in place. This authority greatly enhances our ability to test towards that end state.”

The designation process for the beyond visual line of sight testing took about 14 months. NUAIR and the New York UAS Test Site were able to receive this true BVLOS approval by showcasing the vast amount of high-tech equipment and safety technologies that have been established along with the flight data from over 2,500 UAS test flights they’ve conducted since operations began in 2015.

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