This story broke several weeks ago and yet few media outlets reported on this major breakthrough for the unmanned drone industry in America.
Kathy Hochul, the first female Governor of New York State, announced the news on October 21st, reports a NUAIR press release. What makes this so important is that the FAA has not only agreed to Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) trials, but across the entire designated 50 miles of airspace within the New York State Drone Corridor.
The flight authority gives the corridor administrator, NUAIR (Northeast UAS Airspace Integration Research), the ability to fly cargo and delivery drones from Syracuse International Airport to Griffiss International Airport in Rome, located in the north east area of the State, without the need of visual observers. The FAA designation helps to unlock the full potential and economic advantage of commercial drone and advanced air mobility operations including, at a later stage, eVTOL passenger aircraft.
Governor Hochul also announced the State will provide NUAIR with an additional USD21 million, on top of the overall USD113 million investment.
Governor Kathy Hochul
The funding aims to revitalise communities in the region and grow its economy as part of the ‘New York Central Rising’ initiative plan and cultivate a world-leading UAS industry hub along the corridor in Central New York State and the Mohawk Valley. The project will allow for critical infrastructure to be tested and deployed to enable advanced industry applications, state agency adoption of UAS and associated workforce development.
Governor Hochul commented, “New York’s state-of-the-art drone corridor further cements the state’s position as a global leader in this evolving market for cutting-edge drone technology.”
She continued, “Through our continued investment and focus on drone corridor operations, we are strengthening and growing the regional economies in Central New York, the Mohawk Valley and statewide for generations to come.”
The State’s uncrewed aircraft systems Test Site, owned by Oneida County, is one of only seven FAA-designated sites in the U.S.
The NUAIR release states, “(We are) already assisting a multitude of state agencies to integrate drones into their operations including bridge and infrastructure inspections with the NYS Thruway Authority, environmental conservation with the NYS DEC and more.”
It goes on, “This extended FAA designation and additional funding will drive UAS industry innovation in New York State, allowing for the further development of cost-effective, and ecologically conscious drone operations that will supplement vital supply chains throughout New York State.”
NUAIR CEO, Ken Stewart, remarked, “This 50-mile corridor between Rome and Syracuse NY uniquely encompasses all the elements and infrastructure that are key for the commercialisation of UAS applications such as inspections of transportation and utility infrastructure, medical logistics, environmental conservation and public safety operations.”
FAA Regional Administrator Marie Kennington-Gardiner added, “What NUAIR learns from its operations over Oneida Lake will help chart a path for routine beyond-line-of-sight drone operations across the country.”
NUAIR Drone Operations Team poses in front of their drone that made the 50-mile BVLOS flight from Syracuse International Airport to Griffiss International Airport (image: NUAIR)
Governor Hochul also announced that NUAIR has entered into an agreement with Quebec-based VPorts, a global leader in the design, construction and operation of Advanced Air Mobility infrastructure, to develop the first-in-the-nation international Advanced Air Mobility Corridor between Syracuse International Airport and Quebec, Canada. The corridor aims to build an ecosystem that will provide a platform for full commercial passenger and cargo transport operations using eVTOL craft.
Dr Fethi Chebil, VPorts President and Founder, said, “The in-depth work NUAIR and their partners conducted, as part of a recent NASA AAM task order, led to us selecting NUAIR to take part in establishing the Québec-Syracuse international corridor.” Adding, “This initiative will assist in our ambition and vision to build and operate 1,500 vertiports around the world by 2045.”
Meanwhile, New York State continues to establish itself as the country’s premier destination for drones and related UAS industry businesses. Since 2016, the State has been making major investments (see examples below).
: An initial investment of USD35 million to develop the 50-mile UAS flight traffic management system.
: USD9 million for Skydome, Oneida County’s indoor drone testing facility.
: More than USD25 million for five rounds of the GENIUS NY competition, a program administered by CenterState CEO’s Tech Garden in Syracuse that offers industry entrepreneurs incubator space, company resources, programming and mentoring with the condition that winners establish their operations in the region for at least one year.
: USD16.6 million in ongoing investments for the Tech Garden’s expansion in downtown Syracuse to help grow its UAS industry efforts.
These announcements complement “CNY Rising,” the region’s comprehensive blueprint to generate major economic growth and community development. The plan focuses on capitalising global market opportunities, strengthening entrepreneurship and creating an inclusive economy.
CNY Rising is accelerating with a USD500 million State investment through the ‘Upstate Revitalisation Initiative’. This funding will incentivise private business to invest well over USD2.5 billion and aims to create 5,900 new jobs.
The “rise of the drone corridor” is spreading aross the world and is an essential part of successfully incorporating the green aviation revolution in to the already busy global skies. This week news broke from the UK that the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has approved a 20 mile long “Medical Logistics Corridor” which connects the University Hospital Coventry and Warwickshire Trust’s hospitals in Coventry and Rugby. This is a small section of the proposed 165 mile “drone superhighway” across the Midlands region that should come into service in two years time. South Korea is planning a similar-sized model.
In France, CEDIF (Centre d’Excellence Drones Île de France) is trialling a BVLOS 40 km corridor over cities, rail and road infrastructure south of Paris, as part of preparations for the Olympic Games in July 2024.
The Netherlands is exploring a BVLOS corridor between the former Valkenburg Naval Air Base in Katwijk to the North Sea, while other European countries are following suit. Creating various drone highways across a country is the way forward for those who wish to embrace the impending aviation revolution.
(top image: NUAIR)