US FAA selects New York test site for next phase of drone integration programme

The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has announced two new participants for phase two of the unmanned aircraft traffic management pilot program (UPP): The New York UAS Test Site at Griffiss International Airport in Rome, NY; and Virginia Tech Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership in Blacksburg, Va.

UPP Phase 2 will showcase capabilities and services that support high-density unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) or drone operations, including remote identification services and public safety operations. Data collected from UPP Phase 2 tests will help inform a cross-agency unmanned traffic management (UTM) system implementation plan.

Oneida County and the New York UAS Test Site have partnered with multiple local, national and international organizations to complete the work outlined in UPP Phase 2, including: Aerodyne Measure, AiRXOS, Albany County Sheriff’s Office, ANRA Technologies, AX Enterprize, Flytrex, Johns Hopkins University – Applied Physics Lab (on behalf of the FAA TCAS Program Office), NUAIR, Oneida County Sheriff’s Department, OneSky, ResilienX, Skyward, Syracuse Fire Department and TruWeather Solutions.

Virtual collaboration on UPP Phase 2 began in mid-April of this year, with live flights and component testing taking place at the Test Site starting in September.

UPP Phase 1 was completed in August 2019, in collaboration with NASA, FAA UAS test sites and their industry partners. Phase 1 tested capabilities such as the exchange of flight data among UAS operators and generating an emergency “no-fly zone” for general unmanned aircraft, clearing the skies for emergency response drones.

An unmanned traffic management system would function much like the current manned air traffic management system; assuring people, aircraft, and structures both in the air and on the ground remain safe. To unlock the full capabilities and functionalities of drones for commercial use like package delivery or medical supply drop-offs, a safe, universal UTM system is needed nationwide. Research and testing done at the NY UAS Test Site through the UPP Phase 2 Program will help make that UTM system a reality.

Over 3,000 advanced UAS test flights, including UTM tests, have been conducted at the NY UAS Test Site over the past five years. In 2019, New York State Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced the completion of New York’s 50-mile drone corridor which starts at the test site in Rome and stretches across the state to Syracuse. The corridor has the needed infrastructure and technologies in place to complete the advanced drone operations and UTM standardization work outlined in UPP Phase 2.

Rep. John Katko said. “Implementing this important program at the Test Site will be vital to accelerating the growth of UAS technology and will contribute greatly to our local economy, attracting jobs and promoting greater investment in the region. I applaud Oneida County for their leadership on this issue and look forward to continuing our work together to make Central New York a hub for the UAS industry.”

“The New York UAS Test Site being selected by the FAA to take part in this next phase speaks  to the amount of meaningful testing and research we’ve been doing here in Central New York to advance the industry,” said Tony Basile, chief operations officer of NUAIR. “The collaborative work we will achieve with our industry-leading partners will help shape the commercial drone industry on a national, if not international level.”


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