The Northeast UAS Airspace Integration Research (NUAIR) Alliance and the Griffiss International Airport in Rome, N.Y., have been awarded $4 million in grant funding through the fourth round of Gov. Andrew Cuomo's competitive Regional Economic Development Council (REDC) process.
According to NUAIR, the grant will support the installation of instrumentation for tracking unmanned aerial systems (UAS) operations at Griffiss and at approved locations in central and northern New York, as well as the Mohawk Valley.
In conjunction with the grant award announcement, the NUAIR Alliance has released a request for information on potential follow-on projects for consideration in 2015 and 2016.
The range technology, being developed for Griffiss and the surrounding area by SRC and Saab Sensis Corp., will provide ground-based UAS pilots with situational awareness information to keep the unmanned aircraft clear of other aircraft in order to avoid collisions. NUAIR says this testing capability is the first of its kind at any UAS test site in the country.
“Through The NUAIR Alliance Test Range Instrumentation project, NUAIR and its partners are leading the nation in using sense and avoid technologies that are critical to integrating UAS into the nation’s commercial airspace,” says Lawrence H. Brinker, the alliance’s executive director and general counsel. “We are excited to begin the process of collecting and analyzing data to develop safety, performance and certification standards supporting the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in safe introduction of this new technology.”
The instrumentation will consist of two complementary small radars and locating equipment (multilateration units) that will be positioned on existing cell towers located to the north of the airport. The project will install Saab Sensis Corp.’s Wide Area Multilateration (WAM) Surveillance Airport Surface Radar and SRC’s LSTAR (V3) Air Surveillance Radar at the test site and to the north in the Lowville area.
This project, NUAIR says, is also one of the first-cross regional projects to receive REDC funding through a joint submission by the central New York and the Mohawk Valley Regional Economic Development Councils.
The NUAIR Alliance Test Range Instrumentation project will also help to advance UAS training and job creation. In conjunction with the test site, Griffiss International Airport and the NUAIR Alliance are working with Mohawk Valley Community College to develop training programs for civil and commercial UAS. The program would be an extension of the college’s A&P certificate program and would create direct job training for employment in the fields of robotics and UAS technology.