SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — The Syracuse Hancock International Airport is partnering with Québec-based world leader in advanced Air Mobility (AAM), VPorts, to build the first international electric AAM corridor that will support electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft.

VPorts, along with the Syracuse Hancock International Airport, NUAIR (Northeast UAS Airspace Integration Research Alliance, Inc.), Aéro Montréal, Innovitech, the Unmanned Aerial System Centre of Excellence (Alma), and Helijet International, have all signed a Memorandum of Understanding to establish international electric AAM corridors between Québec (Canada) and the United States.

The corridor will provide a platform for full commercial cargo transport of cargo and people using eVTOL aircraft (large, helicopter-sized “drones”).

The international electric AAM corridor will be built in between the Syracuse Airport and VPorts’ vertiport, or area designated for the takeoff and landing of eVTOLs, in Mirabel, Canada.

The first eVTOL aircraft test flights are planned for 2023.

“The aim of the corridors is to build an AAM ecosystem that will provide a platform for full commercial cargo transport operations using eVTOLs,” said Dr. Fethi Chebil, President and Founder of VPorts.

“They will allow the consortium’s members to explore all aspects of AAM, including goods
transportation, charging readiness, stakeholder management, business cases, security and safety
protocols, social acceptability, and urban integration of infrastructure and operations. Many companies and organizations rapidly investing in these related new capabilities are present in Central New York State today with good prospects of growth, and others are likely to be attracted to the region.”

Future funding for the AAM industry and uncrewed aircraft systems was recently given to NUAIR from Governor Kathy Hochul as part of the “Central New York Rising” Upstate Revitalization Initiative.

The $21 million in funding will allow for critical infrastructure to be tested and deployed to enable advanced industrial applications, state agency adoption of UAS, AAM development, and associated workforce development.

“New York’s state-of-the-art drone corridor further elevates our global leadership in this evolving
market for cutting-edge UAS technology,” said Empire State Development President, CEO and
Commissioner Hope Knight. “Our ongoing investment and focus on drone and advanced air mobility corridor operations will continue to strengthen and grow the statewide economy, especially in the Central New York and Mohawk Valley regions, for generations to come.”

Not only will this future AAM corridor provide opportunities to test relevant technology, regulatory alignment, and air traffic procedures and management, but it will also create thousands of jobs.

A recent study by NEXA Capital estimates that the full expansion of UAS and AAM-related industries to Central New York could create over 8,100 full-time jobs by 2040.

It would also incrementally generate over $1.3 billion in direct, indirect, and induced economic benefits, which include direct effects of investments in the region of up to $130 million.

That future impact would produce jobs for an emerging knowledge-based economic sector filled with highly skilled workers sourced in part by existing New York State university institutions.

“There are currently over 5,000 underutilized regional airports throughout the United States,” said NUAIR CEO Ken Stewart. “The development of this international AAM corridor between Syracuse, NY, and Montreal will help lay the foundation for regional air mobility (RAM) operations for those underutilized airports, assisting with cargo deliveries and strengthening United States supply chains. NUAIR will build on the foundation of its 50-mile UAS Corridor, and UAS traffic management (UTM) systems and our work with NASA on Vertiport Automation Systems to integrate this next-generation aircraft into America’s National Airspace System.”

For the Syracuse Hancock International Airport (SYR), this project aspires to reconnect communities that have been previously cut off from economic opportunities due to a lack of traditional transportation infrastructure.

Becoming a partner in creating the AAM corridor will allow underserved communities a new

“The Syracuse Regional Airport Authority (SRAA), operator of Syracuse Hancock International Airport, is proud to take part in the creation of an international electric AAM corridor,” said SRAA Executive Director Jason Terreri.

“This undertaking, which will sustainably connect communities in Upstate New York and beyond, firmly aligns with the SRAA’s goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through the electrification of transportation-related technology at SYR. SYR is one of the first airports in the U.S. to include UAS/AAM infrastructure planning as part of its Master Plan.”

For more information visit NUAIR’s website.