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CEO FOCUS: New Program Advances Region’s Leadership in Unmanned-Systems Industry

By Robert M. Simpson


The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) recently announced that Syracuse Hancock International Airport was selected as one of five airports in the country for its drone detection and mitigation-research program. As part of the program, the Syracuse airport will test systems that detect and block drones in a real-world environment that includes both commercial and military aircraft. 

This testing is critical to advancing the safe integration of drones into the national airspace and positions the airport to play a key role in the FAA’s efforts to develop standards and guidance for all airports to safely use counter-drone systems.

This designation further solidifies the region’s leadership in the unmanned-aircraft systems (UAS) sector and builds on its globally recognized assets, including NUAIR, the Griffiss UAS test site, and the 50-mile beyond visual line of sight corridor, among others. In addition, this distinction will serve the regional unmanned-systems ecosystem as it will help attract new commercial partners looking to test their systems. This will create jobs and generate an economic impact.

This is a significant opportunity for our airport and we congratulate [the airport team] on its successful application. We look forward to working with the FAA and our partners to further advance commercial applications of UAS technologies through this program. To learn more about our regional efforts, visit                

Robert M. Simpson is president and CEO of CenterState CEO, the primary economic-development organization for Central New York. This article is drawn and edited from the “CEO Focus” email newsletter that the organization sent to members on March 4.