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New York's Center For Unmanned Aerial Systems

Project U-SAFE

Leading the Way for Safe Integration of UAS

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Central New York: Safely Integrating Unmanned Aircraft in the National Airspace

Project U-SAFE

As part of the Upstate Revitalization Initiative, Central New York has launched a 5-year investment program ($50 million currently deployed) focused on unmanned and connected aerial systems. The investment is being made through a partnership between Empire State Development and the NUAIR Alliance as part of the U-SAFE (Unmanned Secure Autonomous Flight Environment) program, which aims to accelerate the testing, certification and safe integration of autonomous Unmanned Aircraft Systems into the airspace.

The U-SAFE program brings the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and industry partners together in the region to develop and field unmanned and autonomous systems which can safely operate in the national airspace. This program is broadly focused on development of a thriving unmanned and connected systems industry cluster in central New York, and builds on research and development capabilities at the FAA-designated Griffiss UAS Test Site.

UTM Corridor

As part of the U-SAFE program, a Unmanned Traffic Management (UTM) system will be developed, certified and deployed in central New York. On November 10, 2016, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced a $30 million investment in a 50-mile flight traffic management system between Syracuse and Rome’s Griffiss International Airport, to advance development of the UAS industry in Central New York.

Within the 50-mile UTM Corridor, this strategic investment will accelerate industry growth by supporting emerging uses of UTM and UAS in key Central New York industries, including agriculture, forest management, transportation and logistics, media and film development, utilities and infrastructure, and public safety.

The New York UTM Corridor will create opportunities for the world's leading sensor and air traffic management companies to deploy, test and validate their systems in support of global UTM standards, for data integrators to test their software on multiple sensing platforms and for industry New York UTM Corridor Development 4 Request for Qualifications leading platforms to test and validate their technologies in a fully instrumented, beyond visual line-of-sight and autonomous operational environment. This program is expected to engage numerous industry collaborators who will build on the already strong presence of UAS-related firms in Central New York and New York’s Mohawk Valley.



The U-SAFE program also includes the establishment of the capability for standardized testing and assessment of UAS airworthiness, cybersecurity, and performance benchmark testing, with a focus on enabling and acceleration the evolution of autonomous operation under UTM globally. This standardized testing and assessment capability is called NUSTAR (National Unmanned Aerial System Standardized Testing and Rating).

Currently, standards are lacking for UAS airworthiness and certification. NASA will be engaged with the NUAIR implementation team in the design and development of the NUSTAR facility. It is intended that any UAS provider that desires to fly an unmanned aerial vehicle in the NAS should be able to come to NUSTAR for certification testing. The aim of NUSTAR is to develop facilities which will support industries involved in UAS production and use.

The New York unmanned and connected systems initiative is premised on industry partner investment in the testing and development, investment which would likely increase as companies involved in unmanned vehicle systems open facilities in the region to be close to where their products will be tested and certified. The development of interim NUSTAR capabilities in central New York is currently in the planning phase

NASA Partnership

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced a groundbreaking agreement between NASA and the Northeast UAS Airspace Integration Research Alliance (NUAIR) to grow the drone industry in Central New York and the Mohawk Valley. The agreement formalizes a partnership in support of two elements of the State's Unmanned Aerial Systems strategy: the launch of the world's first 50-mile Unmanned Traffic Management Corridor and creation of NUSTAR, the most comprehensive UAS test facility in the nation.

“The partnership between Griffiss International Airport, NUAIR Alliance and NASA is one that continues to place our region on the forefront of this ever-growing industry."
Anthony J. Picente Jr.
Oneida County Executive

The announcement was made prior to a demonstration of the first phase of the UTM Corridor in operation, a breakthrough infrastructure asset intending to unlock beyond-visual-line-of-sight commercial operations. That exhibition highlighted the State's commitment to the burgeoning industry and what has become the most advanced drone testing corridor in the nation.

FAA Partnership

Under a continuing teaming agreement with Griffiss International Airport (Griffiss) Unmanned Aircraft Systems Test Site, NUAIR manages the test site and is responsible for supporting Griffiss, under FAA safety oversight, in the areas of program management and conduct of operations for UAS testing at the Griffiss Test Site and its test ranges in New York, Massachusetts, and Michigan.

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