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NASA joins central New York drone testing program

Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks during an announcement at Griffiss International Airport in Rome Thursday

NASA is joining forces with the Northeast UAS Airspace Integration Research Alliance (NuAIR) to grow two elements of the drone industry in central New York. 

It’s a big development for boosters who say the drone industry is one of the keys to economic development in the Mohawk Valley and central New York, like Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

“I believe it’s going to take off, pardon the pun. I believe it’s just a matter of time,” said Cuomo, during an announcement at Griffiss International Airport in Rome Thursday.

This particular partnership with NASA will allow for the growth of two aspects of the burgeoning drone industry at Griffiss. First, the launch of the world’s first 50-mile Unmanned Traffic Management Corridor between Rome and Syracuse.

“The FAA’s radar system really is ineffectual below about 1,200 feet,” said NuAIR Executive Director Larry Brinker. “And certainly ineffectual on small-sized craft like unmanned systems. So that’s what we’re focusing on. We’re developing that Air Traffic Management system that will allow the Amazon package delivery drone to deliver to your house without running into the Domino’s Pizza delivery drone that’s right behind it.” 

The second creates NUSTAR, the most comprehensive drone testing facility in the country, according to Brinker.

“We are positioning ourselves to be a place where industry can go, to get their aircraft certified, and then go out and fly commercially,” he said.

Cuomo says the agreement between NASA and NuAir will buttress the state’s already massive investment in the burgeoning drone industry.