The Federal Aviation Administration has approved the first private drone flights over upstate New York as part of a national testing program.
The Northeast UAS (unmanned aerial systems) Airspace Integration Research Alliance, or NUAIR, has spent the better part of the year waiting for the FAA's approval to begin testing remotely piloted aircraft.
There's another $1 million in the recently passed state budget for upstate New York's new drone testing program, which means the site now has enough funding to get through at least its first year of operations.
The coalition that won the bid just before the New Year, known as NUAIR, will be based at the former Griffiss Air Force Base in Rome. The research lab there is upgrading a former hanger to house drones and equipment.
Upstate New York has won a coveted test site designation for unmanned aerial systems - or drones - from the Federal Aviation Administration as part of that agency's work toward developing regulations for drones' integration into U.S. skies.
But for many here in upstate New York, the designation is more about the jobs and dollars that surround the booming drone industry, estimated to be worth $100 billion globally over the next decade. Industry trade groups predict the business will generated 70,000 jobs nationwide.
A coalition of upstate New York universities and defense contractors has submitted a bid to become a federally designated testing and research site for the integration of unmanned aircraft systems, or UAS, into domestic airspace.