CNY Alliance, Griffiss Airport Win Federal Drone Testing Site

Dec 30, 2013

One of the types of commercial and government drones that might be tested at the new site, awarded to local consortium NUAIR.

  Griffiss Airport in Rome has been awarded one of six test sites for drones that could bring more than a thousand jobs and $ millions in local revenues from Syracuse to Rome to Watertown. 

The Federal Aviation Administration made the announcement of unmanned aircraft national test sites today.  Utica-area congress member Richard Hanna worked for three years with Griffiss, Centerstate C-E-O and a coalition of other companies on the bid that could help people and the region.

“Potentially $700 million in New York and Massachusetts, as many as 2700 jobs, not all of them at Griffiss, but we’re hopeful that a great many of them will be.  Plus there are other opportunities down the road.  These things tend to work as conglomerate economies.  Griffiss has so many wonderful assets; right now this adds to it and I think adds to the security of the facility, Rome Labs and the other businesses that are there.”

Initially he expects about 470 jobs to be created with a statewide impact of 145 (M) million dollars in economic activity.  Centerstate C-E-O helped lobby for the test site.  President Rob Simpson expects a variety of commercial uses for drones to be researched here.       

“Companies who are looking to test out their technologies for integrating unmanned aerial vehicles into the commercial airspace safely they’re going to have to do work in one of those six test locations and we’re going to be very successful at positioning to get some of that work.”

The joint site between here and Massachusetts could create an estimated 27-hundred jobs.  That number could even grow if manufacturers of commercial drones want to build near this test site.  Utica-area Congress Member Richard Hanna says it could turn around the local economy.

“Even though we’re creating jobs, the jobs we’re creating are not middle class jobs, jobs with good benefits, retirement and health care.  These (new) jobs are great jobs; they are solid middle class and upper-middle class jobs.  Because we have things like the 6 million acre Adirondack park I think was a big piece of why we won this.  There’s so much open and relatively unrestricted airspace to test these drones.  These are going to be small drones, not what people imagine.”

The testing coalition called NUAIR includes public development entities, private corporations and academic institutions such as Syracuse University, Cornell and M-I-T.