Northeast UAS Airspace Integration Research Alliance

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

Central New York Leads Development Of Unmanned Aircraft Industry

March 1, 2017

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 aviation. 

Plans are underway for expanding the current UAS test site at Griffiss International Airport, managed by the NUAIR Alliance, to cover 15,000 square miles of New York airspace, creating a world-class Central New York BVLOS (beyond visual line of sight) test and development facility for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the unmanned aerial systems (UAS) industry. 

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, making such BVLOS operations, and the role of the New York UAS test site, key to the success of the commercial UAS industry. 

Flight demonstrations at Griffiss International Airport highlight the capabilities of the emerging unmanned aerial system industry in the United States. This demonstration was the first to include two optionally piloted helicopters working together: the K-MAX and the Sikorsky aircraft. These aircraft can be flown without a person in the cockpit. Instead, a pilot on the ground uses a laptop or tablet to conduct a mission.

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. 

To further catalyze and expand the economic opportunities being created by this industry, Project UAS Secure Autonomous Flight Environment (U-SAFE), being developed at the test site, is moving forward. U-SAFE will create a low-altitude air traffic control system for safe drone operation, and will allow for testing of small UAS and commercial applications to include package delivery, railway and power line inspection, precision agriculture and security applications, specifically surrounding airports. 

The U-SAFE project also establishes a new testing center for drone airworthiness 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. Later this month, NUAIR will co-host an industry briefing day for experts and organizations from around the country interested in becoming NUSTAR partners. 

The NUAIR Alliance is also responsible for managing the $30 million, 50-mile UAS flight traffic management corridor between Syracuse and Rome, announced by Gov. Andrew Cuomo last year. This corridor will allow for testing of BVLOS concepts and technologies, opening up the drone market for drone operators, pilots and engineers, and creating growth opportunities for commercial drone industry software and hardware companies with UAS applications that range from agriculture to construction. 

Companies interested in growing within the UAS or related sectors should contact Mike Novakowski, director of business development for CenterState CEO, at For more information on UAS testing being conducted in New York, Massachusetts and Michigan, visit