ROME, N.Y. (WKTV) - Just four days after the announcement that Rome's Griffiss International Airport is one of six sites nationwide the FAA has chosen for unmanned aircraft systems testing, national and local leaders gathered at one of Griffiss' hangars to announce the first client.
Flyterra is currently testing drones in Canada and France. But when the Manhattan-based company learned about the Griffiss site, they immediately signed up.
"And at first it'll be a handful of jobs, maybe about ten that Flyterra brings here but as they grow and expand, that'll be more," said U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer.
The senator says that Oneida County and the Mohawk Valley are poised to becme the Silicon Valley of drones; a belief echoed by Congressman Richard Hanna.
"These are real jobs, jobs that give people disposable income, like it used to be, to go out and build your life, commit to a community over the long term," said Hanna.
Rome is now in competition with the other five chosen drone-testing sites nationwide to lure clients. Senator Schumer says the same features that won Rome the testing site designation will bring clients to Griffiss.
"First as I mentioned, variation in weather. Second, we have companies that specialize in in what drones need. Companies that deal with detection....we also have great universities," said Schumer.
Schumer says federal officials now are determining where to get the money needed to make certain modifications and/or improvements at Griffiss.
The FAA has required that at least one of the six unmanned aircraft systems testing sites be up and running within 180 days. Schumer says the next big push is to ensure that Rome is one of those sites.