Northeast UAS Airspace Integration Research Alliance

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

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UAS Secure Autonomous Flight Environment (U-SAFE) Close All Open All

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 necesary 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.

The UTM Ecosystem in New York State will include an innovation corridor between Central New York and the Mohawk Valley

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. 

Drones are a revolution in aviation and are currently just at the "Tip of the Iceberg" in the endless list of commercial applications of unmanned aircraft systems.

NUSTAR Facility

NUSTAR Facility

The first center for National Unmanned Aerial System Standardized Testing and Rating

Several new and exciting 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. The NUSTAR facility will be an innovation hub focused on the testing and safe integration of UAS through the advancement and real-world deployment of NASA-founded concepts.

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. 

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 a fee-for-service 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 systems (UTM). 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. It is intended that any UAS provider that desires to fly an unmanned aerial vehicle in the NAS will come to NU-STAR for certification testing. It is anticipated that other UAS industries, collaborators and partners will locate in close proximity to the NU-STAR facility.

$250 Million UAS 5-Year Program

$250 Million UAS 5-Year Program

Revitalizing Upstate New York’s economy through emerging technologies

NASA UTM persistent system 14522020069094

U-SAFE will include a 50 mile "Validated" UAS Traffic Management (UTM) corridor, beyond visual line of site (BVLOS) commercial UAS operations and critical infrastructure protection applications.

New York State 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. 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. 

U-SAFE Team Effort Towards Groundbreaking System

U-SAFE Team Effort Towards Groundbreaking System

Key partnerships with the FAA, NASA and industry leaders

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 Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (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.

In collaboration with industry, NASA has conducted workshops to discuss the capabilities needed to enable low altitude airspace and UAS operations. NUSTAR will complement NASA’s UAS Traffic Management initiative and could offer credible and comprehensive self-regulatory structure for small unmanned aerial systems. NASA researcher Parimal Kopardekar originated the NUSTAR concept and it is anticipated that NASA researchers will continue to provide consulting, advice, and guidance to assist in making the NUSTAR facility a reality. NUSTAR is not a NASA funded program but a NASA originated construct. 

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.   

NUSTAR Advisory Committee

NUSTAR Advisory Committee

The path forward for a state-of-the-art facility being built in CNY

April 11, 2017 - Craig Marcinkowski, a member of the Central New York Regional Economic Development Council and director of business development for Gryphon Sensors LLC, discusses the NUSTAR facilities market demand that is vital to the successful development and continual improvement of UAS products.

The NUSTAR advisory committee will inform the NUAIR Alliance on elements and partnerships needed to build a state-of-the-art facility that will accommodate testing for rapidly changing drone technology. The NUSTAR advisory committee will inform the NUAIR Alliance on elements and partnerships needed to build a state-of-the-art facility that will accommodate testing for rapidly changing drone technology. The project contemplated include the design, permitting, site preparation, construction, commissioning, ownership and/or operation of the facility to test and performance benchmark the airworthiness and cyber security of Unmanned Aerial Systems. The proposed facility is anticipated to be located in Central New York and include provisions for laboratories, testing facilities, and necessary office support space to conduct a wide range of tests on UAS systems. 

With input from the advisory committee and key project stakeholders, NUAIR’s project team will prepare a conceptual facility design that will further define the facility’s functionality, layout and performance specifications. In addition, a siting analysis will be performed by NUAIR’s project team to identify the preferred facility location in the Central New York area. The conceptual design for the facility will serve as the basis for development of a Request for Proposals where detailed technical and financial proposals will be requested. Facility functional requirements and conceptual design are currently in progress and it is anticipated that the facility will have an approximate construction cost/budget of $50-$100 million. The project cost will be further validated as part of the conceptual design developed by the NUAIR project team.

Academic, government and unmanned aerial systems (UAS) industry leaders from across the country met at the Syracuse University's Center of Excellence on April 11, 2017 to discuss plans to construct the NUSTAR (National Unmanned Aerial System Standardized Testing and Rating) facility.

NUAIR will use a two-phase procurement process to select an Offeror(s) to deliver the Project. A Screening Information Request (“SIR”) will be issued as part of the first phase to solicit information, in the form of SOQs, that NUAIR will evaluate to determine which Offerors are the most highly qualified to successfully deliver the Project. NUAIR reserves the right to prequalify a number of vendors at their sole discretion. In the second phase, NUAIR will issue a Request for Proposals (“RFP”) for the Project to the short listed Offerors. Only the short listed Offerors will be eligible to submit proposals for the Project. Each short listed Offeror that submits a proposal in response to the RFP (if any) is referred to herein as a “Proposer.” NUAIR will award contract(s) for the Project, if any, to the most responsive and responsible Proposer(s) to be determined as described in the RFP.

Interested Offerors are advised that in addition to the technical merits associated with the development of the NUSTAR facility, important objectives include creating and maximizing direct and indirect employment opportunities in the Central New York region as a result of the project and to attract new businesses to the region. This includes halo’ firms that can, through their supply chains and other business networks, encourage other firms to locate and expand jobs in the region. Further, NUAIR and the State of New York are seeking to maximize the value of state funding in the project and will give strong consideration in the selection process to Offerors that provide the greatest degree of private sector capital investment in the facility and commitment to job creation in the region.

Drone Innovation Zone

Drone Innovation Zone

Spark and expedite growth of UAS focused business startups

A prototype drone from Propulsive Wing in Elbridge, N.Y. 
RYAN DELANEY /  WRVO

Central New York will also invest in and build one or more Drone Innovation Zones to seed and accelerate the growth of unmanned systems-focused business startups. Further, the region will establish a law and policy institute with Syracuse University that will be dedicated to developing unmanned systems regulation and policy. Finally, investments will be made in an autonomy school that will focus on research, development, testing, and deployment of autonomous aviation systems and eventually expand to include autonomous marine and ground systems.

Drones are becoming the eyes and ears of scientists by surveying the ground for agricultural research, emergency services, delivering medicine, fighting fires and even zipping inside hurricanes to study the wild storms. 

Unmanned Traffic Management

Unmanned Traffic Management

UTM System Being Developed in New York

The rapid innovation of drones has led to an endless list of beneficial civilian applications of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), from goods delivery and infrastructure surveillance, to search and rescue, and agricultural monitoring. Currently, there is no established infrastructure to enable and safely manage the widespread use of low-altitude airspace and UAS operations, regardless of the type of UAS. UTM is a nation-wide initiative being researched and led by NASA. The NUAIR Alliance is working closely with the FAA, NASA, local and national industry teams to develop the critical safety cases that will lead to certification of these systems. A UTM system will be developed, certified and deployed in central New York as part of Project U-SAFE. 

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. 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). 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

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..

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. 

Policy Institute

Policy Institute

NUAIR Seeking Interested Parties

NUAIR Seeking Interested Parties

Options available for offerors to express interest in NUSTAR Facility

NUAIR will use a two-phase procurement process to select an Offeror(s) to deliver the Project. A Screening Information Request (“SIR”) will be issued as part of the first phase to solicit information, in the form of SOQs, that NUAIR will evaluate to determine which Offerors are the most highly qualified to successfully deliver the Project. NUAIR reserves the right to prequalify a number of vendors at their sole discretion. In the second phase, NUAIR will issue a Request for Proposals (“RFP”) for the Project to the short listed Offerors. Only the short listed Offerors will be eligible to submit proposals for the Project. Each short listed Offeror that submits a proposal in response to the RFP (if any) is referred to herein as a “Proposer.” NUAIR will award contract(s) for the Project, if any, to the most responsive and responsible Proposer(s) to be determined as described in the RFP.

Interested Offerors are advised that in addition to the technical merits associated with the development of the NUSTAR facility, important objectives include creating and maximizing direct and indirect employment opportunities in the Central New York region as a result of the project and to attract new businesses to the region. This includes halo’ firms that can, through their supply chains and other business networks, encourage other firms to locate and expand jobs in the region. Further, NUAIR and the State of New York are seeking to maximize the value of state funding in the project and will give strong consideration in the selection process to Offerors that provide the greatest degree of private sector capital investment in the facility and commitment to job creation in the region.

View the entire Request for Expression Interest