FAA Approves First Segment of Drone Corridor

The first of its kind drone corridor will be used for testing unmanned aerial systems (UAS/drones) and unmanned traffic management (UTM) technology. The approval is significant as it allows companies developing unmanned aerial vehicles and associated technologies to fly drones within the corridor without having to set up chase planes or observers on the ground to continually watch over them

FREMONT, CA: The Federal Aviation Administration has approved the first segment of the 50-mile drone corridor between Syracuse and Rome. With this approval, drones can now fly beyond the line of sight within an eight by 4-mile section of airspace between Griffiss International Airport and the New York State Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Services’ State Preparedness Training Center in Oriskany. With this approval, state officials believe that the approval for the remaining additional sections of the 50-mile corridor will follow soon.

"This federal designation is an incredible milestone for New York State and will ensure that Central New York and the Mohawk Valley regions remain the global hub for unmanned aircraft system advancement and integration for generations to come," Gov. Andrew Cuomo said. The approval is significant as it allows companies developing unmanned aerial vehicles and associated technologies to fly drones within the corridor without having to set up chase planes or observers on the ground to continually watch over them.

The first of its kind drone corridor will be used for testing unmanned aerial systems (UAS/drones) and unmanned traffic management (UTM) technology. "With the needed infrastructure now in place, companies will be able to test both unmanned aerial systems platforms and UTM technologies in real-world settings, generating data that will inform the industry and regulators and taking us one step closer towards the routine commercial use of drones," the governor added. "The completion of the corridor advances the regions' collective strategy to accelerate and support emerging uses of UAS in key industries."

Usually, due to safety reasons, drones are not allowed to operate beyond the operator's line of sight. However, in this case, the drones will be monitored by an inbuilt radar system that keeps track of the drones and prevents them from crashing into other drones or objects. The radar network has been specially designed to detect and track small, low flying unmanned vehicles. The state of New York has invested approximately USD 30 million in the UAS corridor project. Governor Cuomo announced an additional USD 12.5 million project to develop Syracuse’s Tech Garden, a technology incubator that runs the GENIUS NY UAS competition.

The Northeast UAS Airspace Integration Research Alliance (Nuair) and the New York UAS Test Site based at Griffiss conducted more than 2500 test flights since 2015 but required multiple people at multiple locations to watch over the aircraft. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) named the Nuair-managed unmanned aerial test site at Griffiss International Airport in Rome as one of seven drone test sites around the country. “The ability to fly with this new authority will help develop and advance many aspects of an air traffic management system for unmanned aircraft," said Nuair CEO Michael Hertzendorf. According to state officials, it took nearly 14 months to get the approvals for the first stage of the drone corridor.

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