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New York to spend $30M on drone-testing corridor in Central New York

By Eric Reinhardt


SYRACUSE — New York State believes in the “potential” of the unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) industry.

“We think this is going to be a $1 trillion industry,” said Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

New York State plans to spend $30 million to develop a 50-mile, flight-traffic management system between Syracuse and Griffiss International Airport in Rome to “advance the burgeoning” drone industry in Central New York.

Cuomo on Nov. 10 announced the funding during his appearance at the Unmanned Aircraft Systems Traffic Management (UTM) Convention at the Oncenter in Syracuse.

Within the 50-mile corridor, “strategic investments will accelerate industry growth by supporting emerging uses of [unmanned aircraft systems, or UASs] in key Central New York industries,” Cuomo’s office said in a news release.

Those industries include agriculture and forest management, transportation and logistics, media and film development, utilities and infrastructure, and public safety.

“It would then be, we believe, the most sophisticated testing area in the country and you wouldn’t have line of sight issues. All the clearances would be done. There’d be special landing strips. It would be designed specifically for this purpose. And we believe we can have it up and operational in 2018,” Cuomo said in his remarks.

Within this corridor, investments will target instrumentation, UTM software, and performance validation of drone-security systems for “critical” infrastructure.

The investments seek to “accelerate” the growth of the UAS industry by supporting “emerging UAS uses in essential sectors of the Upstate economy,” according to Cuomo.

Phase 2
New York will make the investment through a partnership between Empire State Development and the Northeast UAS Airspace Integration Research (NUAIR) Alliance as part of Phase 2 of Project U-SAFE.

NUAIR Alliance is a private-sector alliance of 100 “public, private and academic partners working collaboratively to advance the safe integration of UAS into the nation’s airspace,” stated Cuomo’s release.

Project U-SAFE aims to accelerate the testing, certification, and safe integration of unmanned-aircraft systems into the airspace and “unlock a trillion-dollar global industry.”

For Phase 2, the state plans to implement NASA-founded concepts of UAS traffic-management systems and UAS standardized testing and rating.

Cuomo in August announced a $5 million investment for Phase 1, and the newly announced funding continues the state’s “strong commitment to growing” the UAS industry in upstate New York, he contends.

To date, New York State has provided $7 million in funding for the NUAIR Alliance to support the development of range instrumentation and a data-operations center at Griffiss International Airport.

The announcement complements “Central NY Rising,” the region’s economic-development plan.

The plan won one of the three $500 million prizes in Cuomo’s economic-development contest announced in Albany last December.

Contact Reinhardt at

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