N.Y. Congressmen Tout FAA Reauthorization for Test Site, Local Economy

U.S. Reps. John Katko, R-N.Y.-24, and Richard Hanna, R-N.Y.-22, both members of the House’s committee on transportation and infrastructure, are touting the benefits to the unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) test sites of the recently proposed Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reauthorization.

The congressmen explain that the legislation, the Aviation Innovation, Reform, and Reauthorization (AIRR) Act, promotes the expanded use of the six FAA-designated test sites in the U.S.

Specifically, they say, upstate New York is poised to continue its development as a competitive, economic hub for innovation and research in the industry. The New York site is headed by the Northeast UAS Airspace Integration Research (NUAIR) Alliance at Griffiss International Airport in Rome, N.Y.

Katko and Hanna say the legislation includes the following important components for central and upstate New York:

  • Reauthorizes the Griffiss NUAIR test site for six years. The 2012 FAA Modernization and Reform Act authorized six sites to test integrating UAS into national airspace – which NUAIR successfully competed for and won. This bill ensures NUAIR can continue its work.
  • Makes significant strides in safely and efficiently integrating UAS into national airspace. The legislation promotes greater use of test ranges in order to ensure this. It also makes the permitting process less burdensome for commercial use of UAS – fostering innovation and growth in the budding industry.
  • Prioritizes UAS work already underway at Griffiss, including studying sense-and-avoid technology and low-altitude UAS traffic management systems.
  • Creates a risk-based UAS permitting program and directs the FAA to move away from its cumbersome, one-size-fits-all approach to allow commercial and recreational drone users easier access to the national airspace under certain low-risk conditions.
  • Creates a remote air traffic control tower pilot program to study technology that would give smaller, remote airports that currently do not have air traffic control towers the opportunity to obtain affordable and safe air traffic control. The inclusion of this language in the bill has the potential to grow businesses based in central and upstate New York that produce this technology.

“The unmanned aerial systems industry has the potential to generate great economic growth in our region,” says Katko. “With one of six designated FAA test sites right in our backyard at Griffiss International Airport, this legislation takes significant strides to grow our region into a national research center as we work to integrate UAS into the national airspace. Moreover, this transformative legislation makes critical updates to ensure that our country’s aviation system is safe, modern and competitive for all who depend on it.”

“Creating these test sites in the 2012 FAA bill is among my proudest legislative accomplishments,” notes Hanna. “I am confident that upstate New York, anchored by Griffiss Airport and the hub of advanced technology surrounding it, will emerge as the leading incubator for UAS innovation and integration as a result of the reauthorization and reforms included in the AIRR Act. I look forward to having a robust and open debate on the House floor in the coming weeks and getting this bill to the president’s desk.”


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