January 14, 2014


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NUAIR, an Alliance of public, private and academic partners in both states will lead development of civil and commercial unmanned aircraft systems (UAS)

UAS test sites could create more than 2,600 jobs in New York and Massachusetts by 2017

Syracuse, NY, December 30, 2013 – The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced that an alliance of organizations in New York and Massachusetts will operate one of six test sites in the United States for the development of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS). Test sites will work with the FAA to develop standards for the safe integration of UAS into the nation’s airspace.

Griffiss International Airport, operated by Oneida County, will direct UAS test site operations in New York and Massachusetts. Griffiss International Airport has partnered with the Northeast UAS Airspace Integration Research Alliance (NUAIR), a consortium of public entities, private industry and academic institutions in both states, to conduct UAS testing, research and development.

“Today’s announcement from the FAA is great news for the County and the region. Congratulations to all those involved in working to make this a reality,” said Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente.  “Oneida County and the entire Mohawk Valley is becoming a key technology industry hub and today was a big step forward. In New York State alone this site will create estimated 470 jobs and have a statewide economic impact of $145 million. This announcement today positions Oneida County on the cutting edge of the research, development and implementation of this new and exciting technology.”

As a test site operator, the Griffiss International Airport-NUAIR team will coordinate UAS test flights and collect and analyze data to develop safety, performance and certification standards for integrating unmanned systems into national airspace and for civilian use. The Griffiss International Airport-NUAIR team was chosen from 25 applicants around the U.S. to operate one of six test sites. New York and Massachusetts offer premier locations for UAS testing due to the availability of airspace, weather and landscape diversity and concentration of industry and academic expertise. Both states combined have access to more than 7,000 square miles of restricted and special use airspace for a wide range of UAS testing operations. Testing facilities will be anchored at Griffiss International Airport in Rome, New York and Joint Base Cape Cod in Massachusetts.

NUAIR is led by the CenterState Corporation for Economic Opportunity, in New York, and MassDevelopment, in Massachusetts. CenterState CEO is an organization of 2,000 companies that work together to increase business competitiveness, community prosperity, and regional growth in the 12-county CenterState New York region. MassDevelopment, the Commonwealth’s finance and development agency, works with businesses, nonprofits, financial institutions, and communities to stimulate economic growth throughout Massachusetts. Under the leadership of MassDevelopment and CenterState CEO, industry experts and academic institutions in both states formed NUAIR and combined assets, expertise and experience to compete for a FAA-designated UAS testing site. Organizations partnering with Griffiss International Airport and NUAIR include Saab Sensis, SRC, Raytheon and Lockheed Martin, and colleges and universities include Rochester Institute of Technology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Syracuse University, Clarkson University and Northeastern University, among others.

“The FAA’s designation of New York and Massachusetts as a UAS test site recognizes the tremendous expertise and assets our region offers to this rapidly growing industry,” said Robert M. Simpson, chairman of NUAIR and president of CenterState CEO in Syracuse.  “The NUAIR team has assembled an unparalleled group of industry and academic partners and physical assets, aligning them with some of the nation’s most diverse and ideal airspace for testing.  This effort has benefitted tremendously from the leadership of Senator Schumer and the entire New York and Massachusetts delegations.”

“MassDevelopment is pleased to work with our New York partners on this test site,” said MassDevelopment President and CEO Marty Jones. “Massachusetts military installations are an important part of the Commonwealth’s economy, and I would like to thank the FAA for its recognition and support of the work at Joint Base Cape Cod.”

"Today's announcement, recognizing the NUAIR team as an official FAA test site, is a slam dunk for Central and Northern New York,” said Senator Charles Schumer. “The strong coalition of academic, public and private sector partners helped make New York's application stronger than ever, and I made sure the FAA knew just how deserving New York-based NUAIR was for this designation. This unmanned air systems research and testing will usher in jobs while benefiting key industries, like agriculture and logistics. I have no doubt, that with this announcement, Central and Northern New York will become the Silicon Valley of unmanned systems advancements."

“I’m pleased that NUAIR was selected by the FAA as a test site for this groundbreaking technology,” said Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. “NUAIR has the industry knowledge, public and private partnerships and the military installations already in place that make this site a perfect location for testing. This designation can pave the way for new economic growth and good-paying jobs for the region, and boost our research and development of new technology.  I worked hard to make sure Administrator Huerta knew that New York has everything it takes for success in this venture, and I know the FAA made the right decision choosing NUAIR.”

“During the past three years, I’ve made it a priority through my work on the Transportation Committee to urge the FAA to offer more test sites and get this program up and running,” said Rep. Richard Hanna. “All we ever wanted was to compete and we have successfully. Today, I am pleased that the FAA chose Oneida County to be a nationally recognized center of research, development and testing of unmanned aircraft systems. Helping build a new high-tech economy in the Mohawk Valley is essential to the future of our community. Promoting Griffiss as a hub for new jobs and innovation is a major part of this effort and this news is exciting for our region’s future. Congratulations to NUAIR for its hard work. It is a great example of how when preparation meets opportunity we can be successful.”

“The Federal Aviation Administration made the right choice when choosing Central New York as a test site,” said Representative Dan Maffei. “Our region has the industry expertise, aviation infrastructure, and is willing to make the right investments to support the developing UAS industry.  This test site will help create thousands of jobs, boost our local economy, and work to strengthen the middle class.  CenterState CEO has been a terrific partner in advocating for this project, and I applaud them for their work to bring this new and important investment to Central New York.”

The emerging UAS industry will offer increased efficiency, enhanced safety and cost savings in many fields. Civil and commercial uses of UAS include agriculture, disaster relief, environmental research and pipeline monitoring.

"UAS platforms offer huge opportunities to collect imagery and image-based information for a host of applications,” said Dr. David Messinger, Director of Digital Imaging and Remote Sensing Laboratory at the Chester F. Carlson Center for Imaging Science at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT). “Researchers at the Chester F. Carlson Center for Imaging Science at RIT are very excited at the prospect of having convenient access to a UAS test site. From developing new sensor technology to innovating new ways of processing image data, our scientists and students will help lead the way in helping to realize the potential of UAS-based imaging. We look forward to working with our NUAIR teammates in this exciting enterprise."

“We are very proud to be part of this initiative, and pleased that New York state is taking the lead and ensuring the integrity and quality of research that is so sensitive and critical to our country's future," said Ryne Raffaelle, Vice President of Research and Associate Provost at RIT. "Participating in this initiative will have a positive economic impact for the region, as well as an educational benefit for the universities’ researchers and students working with them. Unmanned aircraft systems are a technology with many useful applications, everything from assisting defense and surveillance to monitoring land management, aiding with disaster and recover efforts, even forecasting weather."

Test sites could bring more than 2,600 new jobs and nearly $700 million in economic impact to New York and Massachusetts by 2017, according to data prepared by Hickey and Associates, LLC. Nationwide, the unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) industry is projected to create an estimated 70,000 new jobs by 2017 and more than 100,000 by 2025, according to an economic impact report published by the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI). According to the report, the total economic impact of UAS industry in the U.S. could reach $82 billion by 2025.  


Oneida County Partners