Northeast UAS Airspace Integration Research Alliance

Leading the research and deployment technologies
for safe UAS operations in the nation's airspace.

NUAIR Alliance Capabilities Close All Open All

Project U-SAFE

Project U-SAFE

Comprehensive program to support the safe integration of UAS into the NAS

The UAS Secure Autonomous Flight Environment (U-SAFE) initiative is a State of New York funded program that will help accelerate the integration of low-altitude, small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS) into the National Airspace System (NAS). Over the next five years, U-SAFE will bring key government stakeholders, academia, and industry partners to Central New York to deploy and validate the neccesary UAS Traffic Management (UTM) infrastructure, safe systems and universal standards for the emerging drone industry. Project U-SAFE will create a low altitude (below 1200') air traffic control system for safe drone operation.

Several new and exiting initiatives will operate out of a centralized complex in Central New York, making it a leading UAS Innovation Center to locate a drone or autonomy related business.

Rapid innovation in unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) will create more and more opportunities for industry to work more safely and productively. To further catalyze and expand the economic opportunities the UAS industry is creating, New York is developing Project U-SAFE. Located in Central New York, Project U-SAFE will create a traffic control system for safe drone operation, and will provide an industrial grade testing and development capability for drones in real-world applications, to include package delivery, railroad and power line inspection, precision agriculture and security applications, specifically around airports and critical infrastructure. 

The U-SAFE project will include the establishment of centers for testing and certifying UAS airworthiness.

The U-SAFE project will design and construct the nation's first UAS airworthiness test facility for drone safety, durability and cybersecurity. Called NUSTAR (National Unmanned Aerial System Standardized Testing and Rating), the center will offer independent performance and safety benchmark testing for drones and drone-related products,-helping draw industries involved in the production and use of drones to Central New York. The results of such testing will be used to establish performance based standards for unmanned systems operating in the National Airspace System. 

The U-SAFE program will build an innovation hub focused on the testing and safe integration of UAS through the advancement and real-world deployment of NASA-founded concepts.

NUSTAR will provide independent and unbiased standardized testing, certification and performance benchmarking of drones (to include cyber assurance ratings). This national asset will also provide analysis and forensic A NUSTAR seal of approval will become the gold standard for drone manufacturers and operators. The NUSTAR facility will operate as an independent testing service, offering assurance to operators, manufacturers and the insurance industry that small civil drones (55 lbs. and below) meet established government and industry standards for safety and overall fitness for real-world operations. The capability NUSTAR will offer will become more and more important as UAS operations become more autonomous and operations extend over longer distances. U-SAFE and NUSTAR are key components in the work Central New York will be performing in development of a future UAS traffic management system. 

As manufacturers continue to develop unmanned aircraft systems, the need for standardized safety tests will be vital to successful development and continual improvement of UAS products.  NUSTAR will offer credible and comprehensive standardized tests and scenarios to assure UAS performance and provide ratings which assess UAS ability to meet recognized performance standards.

New York has launched a $250 million, 5-year investment program focused on "unmanned and connected systems," under Governor Andrew Cuomo’s New York's Upstate Revitalization Initiative. This program is broadly focused on development of a thriving unmanned and connected systems industry cluster in central New York, and builds on Griffiss test site research and development capabilities. The NUAIR Alliance is responsible for managing $30 million, 50-mile UAS flight traffic corridor system between Syracuse and Rome, announced by Gov. Cuomo in 2016. This corridor will allow for testing of BVLOS concepts and technologies, opening up the drone market for drone operators, pilots and engineers, and create growth opportunities for commercial drone industry software and hardware companies.

Project U-SAFE bring NASA, the FAA and industry partners together in the region to develop and field systems unmanned and autonomous systems which can safely operate in the national airspace. The New York unmanned and connected systems initiative is premised on industry partner investment in the testing and development centers, investment which would likely increase as companies involved in unmanned vehicle systems open facilities in the region to be close to where their products will be tested and certified.

The FAA & NASA are key collaborators on the U-SAFE team for the performance validation of this groundbreaking system. The goal is to develop facilities which would draw to the region industries involved in UAS production, certification, and use. The New York unmanned and connected systems initiative is premised on industry partner investment in the testing and development centers, investment which would likely increase as companies involved in unmanned vehicle systems open facilities in the region to be close to where their products will be tested and certified. 

Drone Security Systems Protecting Airports and Critical Infrastructure

Drone and small unmanned aircraft systems (sUAS) intrusions pose a serious threat to airports and other critical infrastructure. U-SAFE's UTM infrastructure will be leveraged to monitor and protect the airspace around several facilities throughout the state.

NUAIR Advisory Committee

World-Leading UAS Infrastructure

World-Leading UAS Infrastructure

UAS Test and Certification Infrastructure in New York, Massachusetts and Michigan

With more than $3 billion in investments in unmanned aerial systems, nanotechnolgy, infrastructure and economic development; affordable real estate; outdoor opportunities; and a comfortable lifestyle , Central New York, Mohawk Valley, Massachusetts and Michigan are locations with opportunities for global competitiveness and business growth sectors to thrive. Through collaborative effort, more than 100 NUAIR Alliance partners are creating a corridor of technology and support to address the challenges of integrating drones into the National Airspace. 

Unmanned Systems Innovation District

  2. Drone Innovation Zone
  3. Policy Institute
  4. Established Business Park
  5. Autonomy Research Institution
Economic Development | Business Acceleration

Economic Development | Business Acceleration

Central New York and across the Northeast United States

The NUAIR Alliance works in collaboration with regional economic development agencies to support the unmanned aircraft system (UAS) sensor industry, mainly in the northeastern U.S. region. In New York, NUAIR is supported by the CenterState Corporation for Economic Opportunities (CEO), Mohawk Valley Economic Development Growth Enterprises Corporation (Mohawk Valley EDGE) and the Massachusetts Development and Finance Agency (MassDevelopment). 

CenterState CEO is an independent and forward-thinking economic development strategist, business leadership organization and chamber of commerce; dedicated to the success of its members and the prosperity of the region.Membership provides access to business development assistance and connections to nearly 2,000 member businesses of all sizes across Central and Northern New York. Companies interested in growing within the UAS or related sectors should contact Mike Novakowski, director of business development for CenterState CEO, at


Collaborative Advantage | Alliance and Partnerships

Collaborative Advantage | Alliance and Partnerships

A network with a culture of Innovation

The Northeast UAS Airspace Integration Research Alliance (NUAIR) is recognized as a leader in technology and applications development in building the case for safe unmanned aircraft system (UAS) operations in the nation's airspace. The NUAIR staff of experienced aviation professionals provide safety, airworthiness, technical, operations, and customer support for UAS testing. The NUAIR Alliance is a consortium of over 150+ aviation industry and academic partners providing expertise in aeronautical research, operations, and safety management. NUAIR manages one of seven federally-designated UAS test sites in the United States, and is at the forefront of public policy development, public acceptance, commercialization, and safe integration of UAS technology. 

Under a continuing teaming agreement with Griffiss International Airport (Griffiss) Unmanned Aircraft Systems Test Site, NUAIR manages the test site and is responsible for supporting Griffiss, under FAA safety oversight, in the areas of program management and conduct of operations for UAS testing at the Griffiss Test Site and its test ranges in New York, Massachusetts, and Michigan. 

Organizations partnering with NUAIR include Saab Sensis, SRC, Raytheon and Lockheed Martin, and colleges and universities in the region including City College of New York, Rochester Institute of Technology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of Massachusetts, Syracuse University, Clarkson University and Northeastern University, among many others. 


Diverse Airspace | World-Class Facilities

Diverse Airspace | World-Class Facilities

Optimal UAS Region


In 2016 the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has issued a broad area 1,200 foot Class G UAS Test Site authorization to the Griffiss UAS Test Site. Griffiss expects to expands beyond its current Griffiss large-UAS Class D, E, and A airspace certificates of authorization (COA), to a large-UAS Class E and A airspace COA covering 60 nautical miles around Griffiss. 

Access to all airspace in New York, Massachusetts and Michigan


NUAIR has hanger and adjacent ramp access facilities at Griffiss, which have been newly renovated to support unmanned aircraft system (UAS) activity. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Griffiss FAA UAS Test Site

Griffiss FAA UAS Test Site

Griffiss International Airport | Rome, NY

In 2012 Congress directed the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to select six unmanned aircraft system (UAS) Test Sites. Griffiss International Airport (Griffiss), owned-and operated by Oneida County, New York was one of 25 applicants from 24 states that responded. The FAA selected the Griffiss UAS Test Site in late 2013 and became operational in August 2014. The FAA stated that the UAS test site operators would allow the agency to develop research findings and operational experiences to ensure safe UAS integration into the nation's airspace. The FAA also stated that the Griffiss team will work on the development of tests, evaluation processes, and to conduct research in the National Airspace System (NAS) on detect and avoid capabilities to prevent collisions with other manned and unmanned aircraft. Building on its location, Part 139 certified airport, Class D airspace, and relationships with aerospace and defense organizations in upstate New York, Griffiss has focused on developing test range infrastructure. 

In July 2016, Congress enacted legislation extending the term of the UAS Test Sites through September 30, 2019

The Griffiss FAA UAS Test Site will be transformed through multiple stages of airspace expansion to create world-leading infrastructure for Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) testing. Before multiple large or small drones can fly in the same airspace as other aircraft, procedures need to be developed for drone pilots to safely detect and avoid other air traffic. Today's system at Griffiss-with high-definition air traffic surveillance, state-of-the-art data collection and analysis capabilities-is the foundation for testing and certification of UAS detect-and-avoid systems to meet future FAA standards and support safe UAS integration into U.S. airspace. 

Plans are underway for expanding the current UAS test site at Griffiss, managed by NUAIR, to cover 15,000 square miles of New York airspace, creating a world-class Central New York beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) test and development facility for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the UAS industry. To the north and northeast of Griffiss testing takes place for precision agriculture and forestry, wildlife and conservation activities. To the west of Griffiss towards Syracuse will create a surveillance corridor along the thruway, to surveil power lines, railways, etc. 

Under a continuing teaming agreement with Griffiss the NUAIR Alliance manages the test site and is responsible for supporting Griffiss, under FAA safety oversight, in the areas of program management and conduct of operations. The Griffiss-NUAIR team, working together, combine to bring the strengths of public and private sectors to meet the challenges of effective UAS Test Site operation.

Unmanned Systems Testing

Unmanned Systems Testing

Certified UAS Pilots

Unmanned Systems Technology

Unmanned Systems Technology

The Griffiss UAS Test Site range instrumentation system provides the foundation for future UAS detect-and-avoid testing in the National Airspace System (NAS). Griffiss has installed and activated a dedicated precision air traffic surveillance system based on wide area multilateration (WAM), ground-based primary 3-D Radar and automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B) provides high-definition air traffic surveillance (independent of legacy FAA air traffic control radar) for the Griffiss UAS test range. Installed in the UAS Operations Control Center is a state-of-the-art multimedia and air traffic data capture, display, storage, playback, analysis capability and operations support system. System capability includes synchronized multi-channel recording and playback of video, audio, and data, including accurate aircraft track and telemetry data. 

This system is designed to be extensible, both in its ability to incorporate additional ground and airborne sensors, and to expand to cover additional airspace, from the surface to Class A airspace and above, over a 15,000 square mile lightly-populated area in Upstate New York. In late 2016 the FCC granted Griffiss a two-year FCC experimental license to transmit on 1030 MHz allowing the test range instrumentation system to track transponder-equipped air traffic. 

In 2017 Griffiss plans to acquire an SR-3 X-band surface movement radar and a Gryphons Sensors R-1400 tracking radar. Griffiss has a signed Interconnection Security Agreement (ISA) with NASA for Live, Virtual, Constructive-Distributed Environment (LVC-DE) air traffic surveillance data exchange. This intent of Griffiss is eventually to extend this capability to support exchange of live Griffiss surveillance data with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). 




Unmanned Traffic Management (UTM)

Unmanned Traffic Management (UTM)

In 2016 the Griffiss International Airport (Griffiss) UAS Test Site supported a flight test of the NASA UAS Traffic Management (UTM) system. The UTM Technology Capability Level 1 (TCL1) test in April 2016 validated UTM initial standards development, on a path to a joint FAA-NASA 2017 UTM pilot program. Griffiss expects to work on the FAA two-year pilot project in parallel with development of a Rome-to-Syracuse UTM demonstration corridor. In 2017 Griffiss is expects to support NASA with a UAS TCL2 test and is represented on two NASA UTM Research Transition Team working groups, Sense and Avoid Working Group and Communication and Navigation Working group.

The UAS Secure Autonomous Flight Environment's (U-SAFE) primary outcome will be the development, fielding and performance validation of a low altitude unmanned traffic management (UTM) system. This system will enable large scales beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) UTM operations across Central New York and the Mohawk Valley. This system will help unlock the potential of the sUAS industry for hundreds of applications including package delivery, precision agriculture, public safety, and critical infrastructure inspection protection.

A unique UTM infrastructure will be deployed around Central New York allowing it to become one of the first areas in the nation for large-scale UTM BVLOS operations. Not currently approved by the FAA, high volume BVLOS drone use is essential for the commercial UAS industry to realize the full economic benefit for applications that include: product delivery, precision agriculture, railway and power line inspection, forestry and wildlife management.

Griffiss is currently supporting AX Enterprize, an AFRL Rome Lab Contractor, in a DoD project titled “Collaborative Low Altitude UAS Integration Effort (CLUE).” The CLUE objective is to provide DoD with technical expertise and engineering in order to research and demonstrate potential DoD use of UTM and interaction with UTM. CLUE involves performance of two studies and validation of the results addressing UTM Impact on DoD Manned and Unmanned Aircraft Operations. 


NASA Space Act Agreement

Our Progress | Planned Projects

Our Progress | Planned Projects

The Northeast UAS Airspace Integration Research Alliance (NUAIR) continues to play a critical role in supporting opportunities to position Central New York as a national leader in the future of unmanned systems and commercial aviations and to accelerate contributions which the UAS industry makes to economic development in the region. 


  • In November, Governor Cuomo announced New York’s investment of $30 million to develop a 50-mile UAS flight traffic management corridor between Syracuse and Rome. The NUAIR Alliance is responsible for managing the project, which will allow for safe testing of drone operations beyond visual range of the drone operator. NUAIR, working closely with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and NASA is developing new concepts, technologies, and safety processes which will open the drone market for operators, pilots, engineers and technicians. This will offer increased opportunities in New York for commercial drone industry systems and software companies.
  • Central New York and the Mohawk Valley hosted the second annual UAS Traffic Management Convention in Syracuse. The 2016 UTM Convention brought industry-leading experts and keynote speakers from across the United States and around the world to collaborate on UTM concepts for integrating drones into the global airspace. NUAIR showcased the region as an industry leader by demonstrating world-leading capabilities for traffic management research and development and UAS testing. This event attracted 700 registrants. 
  • With New York State funding, NUAIR and the FAA-designated Griffiss International Airport UAS-Test Site have developed a state-of-the-art operations control and data center, purpose-designed for flight testing future commercial drone operations concepts, assuring that these will meet or exceed federal standards for aviation safety.
  • The New York Griffiss UAS Test Site safely operated 626 test site flights using UAS from small to large, in five states, and at two airports with air traffic control towers. (66 Test Flights in 2015) These flights included a test of the NASA UAS Traffic Management (UTM) system. The April 2016 UTM Technology Capability Level 1 (TCL1) test validated UTM initial standards development, on a path to continuing support for joint FAA-NASA UTM Research Transition Team activities in 2017.
  • The New York UAS Test Site hosted DJI, the world’s leading maker of small unmanned aerial vehicles, for the final phase of the annual DJI Search and Rescue Challenge. Autero, a team from from San Rafael, California, beat nine other finalists to win the DJI Developers Challenge and claim the $100,000 prize.


The NUAIR Alliance is positioned to contribute significantly to the safe integration of UAS into the National Air Space and supported regulatory reform. With NY State funding from the Central New York unmanned and connected systems initiative, we plan to work cooperatively across the region, and with FAA, NASA, and industry on a 2017 two-year pilot project to develop a Rome-to-Syracuse UTM corridor. The infrastructure which the New York UAS Test Site has installed is designed for validating standards and protocols leading to regulations—through simulation and flight test evaluations. The infrastructure is also suited to validating UAS conformance with evolving FAA airworthiness standards. The main research and development focus for 2017 is UAS ground-based detect and avoid (GBDAA) capability to support Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) UAS operations. NUAIR will continue work with FAA, NASA, and industry, as stakeholders in Real-Time Tracking phased program development for Sense and Avoid (SAA) and Communications and Navigation (C&N) RTT working groups. Griffiss will continue to support a range of UAS operations—UTM, mid-size, and large IFR-capable. 


  • Over 700 test flights, using UAS from small to large, in five states, and in two Class D airspace locations