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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Project U-SAFE

Project U-SAFE

Leading the development of the next generation of aviation

USAFE smallerThe 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 necessary UAS Traffic Management (UTM) infrastructure, safe systems and universal standards for the emerging drone industry. 

Check out our U-SAFE Webpage For More Information 

World-Leading UAS Infrastructure

World-Leading UAS Infrastructure

UAS ecosystem development in New York, Massachusetts and Michigan

Unmanned Systems Innovation DistrictWith 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. 

Economic Development & Business Acceleration

Economic Development & Business Acceleration

Opportunities in Central New York, Mohawk Valley and the Northeast Region

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. NUAIR was founded by members of CenterState CEO and later joined by Mohawk Valley Economic Development Growth Enterprises Corporation (Mohawk Valley EDGE) and the Massachusetts Development and Finance Agency (MassDevelopment) to respond to the UAS Test Site opportunity created by Congress in 2012.

CNY Rising

CNY Rising is the regional plan and investment prospectus submitted in 2015 for New York State’s Upstate Revitalization Initiative, ultimately awarded $500 million in competitive economic development funding.

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. Central New York and the Mohawk Valley have taken a leading role in growing the Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) industry. In 2011, CenterState CEO, in collaboration with sensor industry leaders SRC, Inc, Saab Sensis Corp. and Lockheed Martin, assembled the expertise and resources to found the NUAIR Alliance and successfully compete for one of seven FAA designations as a UAS test site. CenterState CEO and NUAIR work to advance UAS-related economic development opportunities for the region, actively pursuing business attraction leads to bring firms and jobs to 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

The NUAIR Alliance provides economic development leadership for the growth of the UAS business sector in Central New York. The Alliance also provides public education about civil and commercial use of UAS. Through its partnership, CenterState CEO provides government relations, communications, and back-office support for the NUAIR mission, while working in concert to advance the economic development opportunities the UAS industry holds for the region. With leadership from NUAIR and Centerstate CEO, Project UAS Secure Autonomous Flight Environment (Project U-SAFE) is among the key initiatives to position Central New York as national leader in the future of unmanned systems and commercial aviation. 

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New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo poses with representatives of the Central New York Regional Economic Development Council during an awards ceremony on Thursday, Dec. 10, 2015, in Albany, N.Y. The Finger Lakes, the Southern Tier and central New York have each won $500 million in state funds as part of Gov. Cuomo's upstate economic development competition. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)

The New York Upstate Revitalization Initiative (URI) is part of an overall program aimed at systematically revitalizing the economy of Upstate New York. Modeled after the success of the Buffalo Billion Initiative, the URI is an opportunity for the communities of upstate New York to address the economic challenges of their regions and work together in bringing jobs back upstate.

The Central New York URI Plan is rooted in the region’s natural, business and academic advantages and is focused on strategic initiatives with regional, national and international corporate partners that will lead to thousands of new jobs, billions in capital investments and a lasting legacy for the region of an inclusive economic revival. The strategic initiatives in Central New York’s plan include: Global Center for Unmanned Systems and Cross-Connected Platforms, New York-Grown, New York-Certified—Safe and Market-Ready, Global Manufacturing and Logistics Hub, National Veterans Resource Complex, and a Consensus Commission on Government Modernization.

Empire State Development (ESD) is New York's chief economic development agency and the sky is the limit for economic development and innovation in New York State, a top-ranked home to scientists and engineers, STEM graduates and academic R&D funding. New York is becoming a booming hub for new technologies and the businesses of tomorrow. Through the state’s strategic investments, based on a community-based economic development model that builds on regional strengths, Central New York has emerged as a leader in next-gen technology, and a destination for the world to develop new ideas and tap into the future of unmanned systems. 

GENIUS NY, a yearlong business accelerator, awarded six finalist teams a total of $2.75 million on March 15, 2017. GENIUS NY, funded by Empire State Development, builds on the progress of CNY Rising, which calls for major investments in the unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) industry in central New York. AutoModality won the $1 million grand prize; Ascent Aerosystems was awarded the second place prize of $600,000; OmniMesh was named third place, winning $400,000; while three finalists, Akrobotix, EZ3D and SkyOp, all were awarded $250,000.

GENIUS NY, the largest business accelerator competition for the UAS industry in the world based in Syracuse, NY, awarded $2.75 million in grand prizes after a 12-month in-residence business competition and accelerator program hosted at The Tech Garden in downtown Syracuse.  Funded by Empire State Development, the innovation program builds on the progress of CNY Rising, which calls for major investments in the unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) industry in central New York.

During the event, teams pitched their business plans to a panel of judges and a live audience. Following the pitches, all six competitors were awarded one of six investments. The teams, which located to central New York earlier this year, will use the investments to continue to accelerate their growth and expand their presence in the region. AutoModality, who won the $1 million grand prize, creates autonomous drone systems for close-up inspections. The company is particularly focused on the inspection of agriculture and infrastructure assets. 

The state will commit $5 million to support a second round of the business accelerator, GENIUS NY II, for 2018. These applications will accepted for three months beginning in June.

Collaborative Advantage with Partnerships

Collaborative Advantage with Partnerships

A network of technology experts 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 with infrastructure to support growth

Primary Griffiss New York UAS Test Ranges, together with Syracuse Class C airspace and Class D and restricted airspace at Wheeler-Sack Army Airfield, Fort Drum, New York.

The NUAIR Alliance has access to more than 7,000 square miles of diverse airspace above varied terrain, inland lakes, rivers, ports, harbors, coastal and maritime areas in New York, Massachusetts and Michigan. The varied weather patterns and robust winters in the Northeast provide all-seasons testing capabilities. NUAIR customers have approved access from the surface up to FL250 with current airspace, including special access all the way to FL750 upon request. 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. Griffiss holds an FAA Certificate of Waiver or Authorization (COA) to operate large UAS in the GSS airspace. Class G, D, E and A are all included in the COA. 

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

New York Griffiss International Airport UAS Test Site

New York Griffiss International Airport UAS Test Site

Oneida County | Rome, NY

faa testsite 1

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. 


Griffiss is a public-use airport, owned and operated by Oneida County, New York. Located in Rome, NY, Griffiss has an 11,800 foot runway, an operating air traffic control tower, and ample airspace for UAS test operations.

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.

Griffiss Business & Technology Park is a key asset, not just for the Mohawk Valley, but for all of New York State. The Griffiss Park has attained national recognition for transforming a former Air Force installation into a vibrant business and technology park, and is now home to over 75 businesses and 5700 employees. Griffiss has development districts with specific focuses in technology, manufacturing, aviation, office, education and recreation. It is the location of choice for diverse organizations that are recognized globally, and for their innovative research, products and services, internationally renowned cyber research, sensor, information security and computer engineering firms and agencies. 

Scores of tenants employing thousands of people make Griffiss one of the most successful business and technology parks in the United States. Griffiss has efficient highway, air, canal and rail access to important U.S. and international trade centers.

Today, Premier Aviation, Midair USA, Aviation Services Unlimited (Bell Helicopter), Reutter A&P, and Waypoint A&P operate maintenance, repair and overhaul facilities at Griffiss. In 2006, Mohawk Valley Community College opened an A&P mechanic training program at Griffiss to provide manpower needed to support the MRO Industry. MVCC is developing a UAS Operating & Training Program to create a workforce pipeline for the UAS industry.

The function of the Griffiss International Airport is to provide a safe and well maintained facility to serve the current and future commercial, corporate, business, governmental, and general aviation needs of Oneida County and the State of New York. The goal of the Griffiss International Airport is to expand its economic impact in order to ensure that the community achieves the maximum benefit from the airport’s potential for enhancing economic growth.

Flight Operations | UAS Testing

Flight Operations | UAS Testing

Experienced Pilots and Flight Engineers

The NUAIR staff includes experienced aviation professionals that are skilled in providing customers with a wide-range of services. Whether its measuring a drone’s suitability for a safe flight (airworthiness), testing platforms and payloads, or helping research and development of UAS by working with NASA and the FAA, the NUAIR Flight Operations Staff and it’s Alliance of partners have the resources to meet any customer requests. 

Large UAV Launch Collage

Customer needs range from small to large operations with different drone applications. Some needing access to airspace and facilities to others needing trained pilots to test their product. NUAIR pilots are certified in quadcopters, fix winged and multi-rotor small unmanned aircraft systems (sUAS) and have tested multiple platforms, radar, traffic management and search and rescue operations. 


As the number of business looking to integrate drones into their operations, UAS software and hardware developers are seeking new ways to safely meet the customers drone needs by testing and conducting research. To continue the advancement of the UAS industry, the NUAIR Alliance is built on the strength of coalition partners that provide world-class resources and trained professionals. 

Unmanned Systems Technology

Unmanned Systems Technology

Detect-and-Avoid capabilities for next-generation UAS

The NUAIR Alliance is playing a leading role working with NASA, testing a system that would make it possible for unmanned aircraft to fly routine operations in United States airspace.

In order to safely and seamlessly integrate UAS into non-segregated airspace, a robust Detect and Avoid (DAA) capability needs to be established. The New York Griffiss International Airport Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Test Site is evaluating next- generation UAS ground-based detect and avoid (GBDAA) systems capable of enabling extended UAS beyond line-of-sight (BLOS) operations in airport terminal areas and in transition airspace. 

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. 

The purpose of Griffiss range instrumentation is capability development for measurement and recording of position, velocity and track information for airborne activity in and around Griffiss test ranges, and to support GBDAA development. The engineering design philosophy for Griffiss range instrumentation is for operation at a high Technology Readiness Level (TRL).  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. 

The state-of-the-art New York UAS Test Site Operations Control Center at Griffiss International Airport provides tracking capability for unmanned aircraft systems. The system was installed by Ax Enterprise, a New York State Certified Women-Owned Small Business that specializes in Certified Hardware, Software and Systems Engineering and Light Electro-Mechanical Manufacturing

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

Unmanned Traffic Management

Enabling Civilian Low-Altitude Airspace and Unmanned Aircraft System Operations

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. 

Our Progress & Planned Projects

Our Progress & Planned Projects

Leading the development of UAS integration, standards and certification

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