Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced last week that a $30 million dollar airstrip for testing unmanned aircraft systems will be built in central New York. The 50-mile flight corridor managed by a new flight traffic management system will be located between Syracuse and Griffiss International Airport in Rome, New York. The area is home to radar and sensor companies used by drones. Governor Cuomo wants to encourage companies investing in the growing drone industry.
"We believe (Central New York) can be the capitol for unmanned aircraft," Cuomo said, adding that the air strip could become "the most sophisticated testing area in the country."
The unmanned aircraft industry could be worth a trillion dollars. President and CEO of New York's Empire State Development Howard Zemsky said they are committed to building on the area's strategic assets.
"You already have a lot of sensor and related technology companies here in the region," Zemsky said. "You really have a growing, dynamic industry that needs this type of traffic management testing system. By putting in the public infrastructure, you can be assured that the governor is intent on attracting private investment."
The project will be funded by a partnership between Empire State Development and the Northeast UAS Airspace Integration Research (NUAIR) Alliance as part of Phase 2 of Project U-SAFE. NUAIR Alliance is a private-sector alliance of 100 public, private and academic partners working to advance the safe integration of UAS into the nation’s airspace. Project U-SAFE aims to accelerate UAS testing and certification.
Plans are for the airstrip to be operational by 2018.