Syracuse to Rome drone test corridor about ready to go

Local News

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — A 50-mile drone test corridor from Syracuse to Rome is just about ready for use. The corridor is designed to allow unmanned aircraft to fly what’s called beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS)

Right now, FAA regulations only allow drone flights as far as an operator can see the machine from the ground.

Those in the industry say the only way to start delivering packages and other anticipated uses for UAS is to safely allow for flights farther than an operator can see the aircraft.

The New York UAS test site at Griffiss International Airport in Rome is the anchor point of this test corridor.

NUAIR CEO Mike Hertzendorf says, “We’ve done a beyond visual line of sight, BVLOS flight, from Griffiss to Oriskany, about eight miles.”

He says by next month, the last of the nine radars should be installed for the larger test corridor of 50 miles.

Most drones now can’t travel that far because of battery life, but he says the corridor is ready when technology catches up.

NUAIR has also been working on a cloud-based computer network to process critical information for the drones inside the corridor.

“Where they can talk to each other, they can detect and avoid each other. You can identify who’s flying and manage all these different capabilities and integrate weather or surveillance from the radars,” Hertzendorf tells NewsChannel 9.

He adds that by the end of August, NUAIR will have developed a series of test scenarios ready for use in the corridor.

“We actually launched an intruder drone just to see how it would react and the radar picked it up in the operations center before a visual observer on the ground,” Hertzendorf says.

The goal is to create a UAS traffic management system so drones can zip around all over the country without a problem.

Hertzendorf says, “With aviation, there’s risk and we have to be able to mitigate that risk and apply rigor to the operations, standards, discipline, the training, and the maintenance.”

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo in 2016 announced a $30 million State investment to help develop the corridor.

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