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NASA to Partner with Griffiss Airport on Drone Testing; Corridor Gets its First Test

Gov. Cuomo's flickr page

The drone testing program out of Griffiss airport in Rome has an important new partner.  NASA has agreed to gather information on testing and submit it to the FAA to help shape new regulations.  Governor Andrew Cuomo paid a visit Thursday to announce the "groundbreaking" agreement.  He says it's one of many key elements to launching the first-in-the-nation 50-mile Unmanned Traffic Management Corridor between Rome and Syracuse. 

"There will be a radar system so you can track it with an investment of about four million dollars.  Gryphon Sensors about $5 million investment to make that test area complete and state of the art, where if you are interested in this industry, this is the place to be.  And then we want to develop a cluster economy around that."

The announcement included a demonstration of the first phase of the UTM corridor.  NUAIR flew a manned aircraft and small drone while sensors and radar on the ground tracked the aircraft and kept them a safe distance apart.

The state has made a $30 million investment in drone testing in an effort to put New York in the forefront of what could be a trillion dollar global industry.  Even Central New York firms seem to be confident.  In addition to Gryphon's investment, SRC announced that it plans to hire 1,000 new employees over the next five years as a result of increased industry growth and demand.  

Senator Chuck Schumer applauded the news, saying in a statement that NASA's partnership strong signal that unmanned aerial systems research and testing will continue in the Mohawk valley, and benefit industries like railway inspections and agriculture.

Scott Willis covers politics, local government, transportation, and arts and culture for WAER. He came to Syracuse from Detroit in 2001, where he began his career in radio as an intern and freelance reporter. Scott is honored and privileged to bring the day’s news and in-depth feature reporting to WAER’s dedicated and generous listeners. You can find him on twitter @swillisWAER and email him at