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Drones in N.Y. Corridor Can Fly Beyond Visual Line of Sight

The Federal Aviation Administration has authorized beyond visual line of sight flights for unmanned aircraft systems across 35 miles of New York’s 50-mile drone corridor. The decision was announced yesterday.

Drone in blue sky
Shutterstock/Dennis de Meijer
(TNS) — The Federal Aviation Administration has given authority for unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) usage beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) across 35 miles of airspace within New York’s 50-mile drone corridor, Northeast UAS Airspace Integration Research Alliance Inc., or NUAIR, announced Tuesday in a statement.
Current regulations only allow drone operators to fly drones that have a pair of eyes on them, thereby limiting the ability to fly long distances.
The ability to safely fly BVLOS is key to unlocking the economic advantage of routine commercial drone operations for things like medical and package deliveries, NUAIR said.
“We have a long track record of safe UAS test flights and real-life implementation, including BVLOS operations,” said NUAIR Chief of Operations Tony Basile in a statement. “This new BVLOS airspace authorization will allow us to test more advanced, long-range flights and help us prove BVLOS operations can be done safely — the key component in realizing the true economic advantage of commercial drone operations.”
The drone corridor is located between Rome and Syracuse and is the area in Central New York where drones are federally authorized to fly outside of the line of sight of the operator.
The test site first received BVLOS authority for an 8-by-4-mile stretch of airspace from Griffiss International Airport in Rome south to the State Preparedness Training Center in Oriskany in 2019.
The new airspace — announced Tuesday — extends west of Griffiss toward Oneida Lake, NUAIR said.
NUAIR said it will utilize ground-based surveillance systems (GBSS) installed throughout the corridor to monitor air traffic and detect intruder aircraft for BVLOS operations that are taking place at or below 400 feet.
Visual observers also may be deployed during BVLOS operations to assure safety of operations.
NUAIR has conducted over 3,800 UAS test flights at the test site. This equals over 950 flight hours since operations began in 2014, NUAIR said.
“Oneida County’s Test Site at Griffiss International Airport has long established itself as an elite hub for all things UAS,” said Oneida County Executive Anthony J. Picente Jr. in a statement. “The one-of-a-kind testing, research and development that occurs here is elevating the entire industry. This latest FAA authorization will allow our 50-mile drone corridor to push the limits of what is possible yet again, and we look forward to the new advancements that will result.”
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