Syracuse (WSYR-TV) -- The military is using drones to go after Al Qaeda in Iraq and Afghanistan, but unmanned aircraft could have a number of other uses and Syracuse wants to be one of the six sites in the country to test them in commercial airspace.
A group of 40 public, private and higher education groups known as the NUAIR Alliance
are teaming up to land one of the coveted sites here in Central New York. The fact that the 174th is already flying and training with them is a plus for Syracuse. The terrain and airspace in Upstate New York is another plus. There are only a handful of sites flying UAVs like the 174th and they're doing it mostly in warm, dry areas.
“Part of the FAA chapter is climactic diversity. We can’t just prove things work in the desert southwest and nowhere else,” said Robert Knauff of NUAIR Alliance.
Knauff says it should help that some of the high tech companies in the Syracuse area are doing the type of sensor and data work that would be key for testing unmanned aircraft in commercial airspace.
“This initiative is right in this region’s technical wheelhouse. It fits us so well,” said Larry Harris, CFO of Saab Sensis.
“Tremendous opportunity for us, for our local companies to identify new customers to sell in new markets and to create wealth and to create jobs right here in Upstate New York,” said CenterState CEO Rob Simpson.
If you're flying out of Hancock Airport in the next couple of years, don't expect one of those unmanned aircrafts we're so used to seeing in the military right next to your jet. That will be a few years off at least. They'll start off small and that will probably even be a few years away.
"Their number one mission and they will tell you that is to ensure the safety of the airspace of the United States. Anything that has any chance of making that less safe will not pass muster with the FAA.,” said Knauff.
The FAA expects to announce the designated sites by the end of this year.