NASA making strides at Central New York FAA test site

Local News

An important milestone is in the work to make central New York a hub for the nation’s drone industry.

NASA is spearheading the effort at Griffiss Airport, one of six FAA-approved test sites. The work there could lead to remote Amazon deliveries, pizza deliveries, and so much more.

“The biggest thing about this year is that the pilots were not at the aircraft, the pilots were inside the building at our command center flying from computer stations,” said Tony Basile, NUAIR, VP of Operations.

Wednesday was the first time the pilots will be flying four unmanned aircrafts out of their sight, whose paths could cross, at the same time.

“We started off with one aircraft just to prove the concept, then to two, then to three, then we got to four for the first time,” said Basile.

They’re hoping in the future they can have multiple aircrafts flying at the same time, so they can have unmanned aircrafts flying in the same air traffic patterns as commercial airlines.

“We don’t know how they’re relating to manned aircraft, in other words, people are flying over the fence at JFK, so they’re trying to figure out how do we know where it is? How do we know how high it is? Who’s got it and where it’s going?,” said Chuck Hereth, Chief Pilot.

Griffiss Airport is the only FAA test site in New York state, so already central New York is becoming a pioneer in the industry.

“We’re seeing that already, where they come here to test, some are moving here permanently. We’re seeing that already, at least two tenants that have moved here after it was announced as a test site. A lot of them are transient, they’ll spend anywhere from three days to three months,” said Basile.

And with another successful flight under their belts, they’re hoping business will continue to take off.

Governor Cuomo announced last year he would award $30 million for the central New York drone industry to help build a 50-mile test strip between Griffiss and Syracuse to test remotely piloted machines.

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