Griffiss selected as national drone test site

By Joleen Ferris

The Federal Aviation Administration has announced the six unmanned aircraft systems testing sites that will be located throughout the country.  Among them: New York State, specifically, Griffiss International Airport in Rome.

New York partnered with Massachusetts in order to secure a site. Congressman Richard Hanna says it's a geographic dream for testing unmanned aircraft.

"Because we've got the terrain with four seasons and we have the hills and the open space it's just, it's a perfect marriage," Hanna said.

It's a burgeoning industry that's expected to create thousands of jobs in New York state over the next three years, hundreds of them at or near Griffiss.

"And over time we expect that they'll hire -- 470 is the number I've heard -- to 500 people, good paying, real middle class jobs," says Hanna.

The Griffiss/Massachusetts partnership is one of six sites chosen to safely integrate unmanned aircraft systems into national airspace in a variety of applications, including civilian.

"Everything that you can imagine that needs to be done to make sure these things are functioning and meeting the current demands around the world for these devices and for this country for a whole host of purposes will be tested here," says Hanna.

NUAIR, a conglomerate of public entities, private industries and academic institutions, was formed to help secure a site for New York and Massachusetts. NUAIR will set up offices at Griffiss, but officials there say the majority of jobs and hiring will come from companies who manufacture the aircraft and want to locate where they'll be tested.

The FAA is requiring that at least one of the six sites be up and running within 180 days. Officials with NUAIR hope the New York/Massachusetts site will be one of those.

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