The FAA has selected the New York UAS Test Site at the Griffiss International Airport in Rome, New York for a project supporting safe drone integration and the development of a new traffic management system for unmanned aircraft systems. The project is designed to test and evaluate new applications for use in future UAS traffic management (“UTM”) systems. The selected test site is part of New York’s 50-Mile Drone Corridor, which facilitates beyond visual line of sight (“BVLOS”) testing and advanced uncrewed aircraft operations. The project will be managed by the Northeast UAS Airspace Integration Research Alliance (“NUAIR”), a nonprofit organization that manages the New York UAS Test Site, and will also involve the participation of several other partners, including NRA Technologies, OneSky, AX Enterprize, Cal Analytics, the Oneida County Sheriff’s Office, and Oneida Indian Nation.
This project represents the FAA’s continued recognition of the need to support and integrate more complex UAS operations while ensuring safety and efficiency, particularly as more use cases emerge involving drone operations that are BVLOS and in low-altitude airspace (i.e., 400 feet and lower). One such compelling public use case is in infrastructure inspection, particularly in densely populated urban environments where conventional inspections typically entail lengthy and costly traffic disruptions. Drones may be utilized in these settings to conduct infrastructure inspections more safely and efficiently, resulting in substantial cost savings. New York State alone has more than 17,000 bridges, each requiring an inspection every two years. Utilizing drones for these initial bridge inspections is projected to save New York State an estimated $1 billion annually. The UTM project at the New York UAS Test Site is expected to conclude in Spring of 2023.