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NUAIR’s new leader is “well known innovator” in UAS industry

By Eric Reinhardt (


A drone in flight at the drone test site at Griffiss International Airport in Rome. (PHOTO CREDIT: NUAIR)

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Syracuse–based NUAIR describes its new president and CEO as a “well-known innovator and leader” within the unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) industry.

The organization on Jan. 4 announced it has hired Ken Stewart as its new top official. 

Stewart most recently served as CEO of Boston, Massachusetts–based AiRXOS, part of GE Aviation, NUAIR said in a news release. AiRXOS focuses on providing end-to-end unmanned aircraft systems. The company says on its website that it built the first UAS traffic management corridor in the U.S. for the State of Ohio.

“I am excited to lead the NUAIR team and support the region’s unsurpassed ‘innovation friendly’ environment for UAS research, testing and operations,” said Stewart. “NUAIR has all the elements required and the ability to make a lasting impact on the UAS industry. I’m looking forward to changing the world through innovation and empowering our team to do amazing things.”

He replaces Mike Hertzendorf, who departed NUAIR in 2020 and is now serving as VP of member services at Helicopter Association International, according to Hertzendorf’s LinkedIn profile.

Ken Stewart

Stewart will oversee NUAIR’s efforts to safely integrate UAS — or what are more commonly known as drones — into the national airspace system and “keep NUAIR at the forefront of the industry,” per the organization.

He will also lead the commercialization of New York’s 50-mile UAS traffic-management (UTM) corridor and oversee operations of the New York UAS test site at Griffiss International Airport in Rome. 

“Ken Stewart is a fine choice to lead NUAIR into the future,” Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente, Jr. said in the release. “His experience and expertise will help usher Oneida County’s test site into the next phase of its development as the global leader in UAS research and advancement. Along with our other partners who are taking the industry to the next level with our UTM corridor, we welcome Ken and look forward to his contributions.” 

NUAIR says it is trying to make the Mohawk Valley and Central New York the “go-to place for all things unmanned, contributing to the economic development of the region,” and believes Stewart will aid that effort.

NUAIR — an organizational partner of CenterState CEO — manages the test site for Oneida County which owns the facility. It is one of seven drone test sites in the country, as designated by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

“We are extremely excited to welcome someone with Ken’s knowledge, experience and passion to the role of CEO at NUAIR,” Robert Simpson, president and CEO of CenterState CEO, said. “His leadership will enable ongoing collaboration and innovative advancement of NUAIR’s mission, further expanding its engagement with businesses and experts to advance critical research and development of the sector across Central New York.”

New York state has provided $30 million in funding to develop a 50-mile flight-traffic-management corridor between Syracuse and Griffiss International Airport in Rome to advance the UAS industry in Central New York as part of the CNY Rising Initiative, NUAIR said. Within the 50-mile corridor, the funding has accelerated industry growth by supporting and testing the many emerging uses of UAS in key industries, including environmental conservation, utility and infrastructure inspection, package and medical delivery, and public safety.       

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