Schumer visits to advocate Griffiss as host for system

By Joleen Ferris

Griffiss International Airport is one of 25 sites remaining nationwide that are vying for six UAS -- or unmanned aerial system -- designations nationwide.

The sites will develop and test nonmilitary applications for unmanned airspace, such as crop dusting and aerial surveillance of weather damage. U.S. Sen. Charles  "Chuck" Schumer visited Griffiss on Monday afternoon to vow to "persuade" the FAA  to chose Rome.

"I know the FAA administrator very well, and I will -- in person -- make the argument over and over again why we deserve it," said Schumer, adding that Griffis should win the designation not by a nose, but by several lengths.

Aiport Commissioner Dick Gifford outlined some reasons why Griffiss deserves such a designation.

"We have low airspace congestion in the area," he said. "We have a runway that's over two miles long; 11, 820 by 200 feet.  We have an operating control tower and we have crash rescue."

Schumer says the designation would mean exponential job growth for Central New York.

"And if we are chosen as the place that trains, that sites, that figures out how you integrate this into commercial airspace -- it's going to attract hundreds of companies that are interested in this area, internationally."

Hancock International Airport in Syracuse and Fort Drum in Watertown are part of the consortium pushing for Griffiss to win the UAS designation. 

The FAA is expected to chose the six sites within the next six months. Those winning the federal designation will be eligible for federal money to establish programs.


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