There’s a big-time drone traffic management project happening in New York right now. Last month, the New York UAS Test Site became the site of a UTM Field Test project, which will be a key driver in future plans for drone traffic management.
The UTM Field Test project is being done in coordination with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and executed by the folks at NUAIR (Northeast UAS Airspace Integration Research Alliance, Inc.) which is a New York-based nonprofit studying drones. NUAIR is then made up of a number of private companies and public organizations. For the FAA UTM Field Test project, participants include:
- ANRA Technologies
- AX Enterprize
- Cal Analytics
- Oneida County Sheriff’s Office
- Oneida Indian Nation
“Each of these partners were selected based on their leadership in UTM technology and their willingness to continue to progress the state of the technology,” according to a statement from NUAIR. Each of those organizations will weigh in on infrastructure or participate in field tests to demonstrate what does or doesn’t work.
The project is happening New York’s Oneida County, which is part of a 50-mile drone corridor running between Rome and Syracuse New York. That corridor has bee the site of more than 4,000 different drone operations. It’s also a key feature of NYUASTS, one of the seven FAA-designated UAS Test Sites in the U.S. NYUASTS stands out as the only test site located at a towered airport, which is Griffiss International.
“The need for drone operators to safely utilize low altitude airspace (below 400 feet above ground level) continues to grow with more business cases where drones operate both in visual line-of-sight and beyond visual line-of-sight,” according to a NUAIR statement. “The FAA recognizes the benefits of supporting these more complex drone operations at low altitudes safely, equitably, and efficiently and continues to collaborate with industry through projects like the UFT to improve UTM and other enabling technologies.”
The FAA UTM Field Test project started in July 2022, and stakeholders say they expect it to be complete by spring of 2023. Ultimately, the goal of the test is to help design standards needed to support beyond visual line-of-sight (BVLOS) operations, which most experts agree is a critical element in unlocking widespread commercial drone operations.
As for the state of BVLOS in 2022, major headwinds were made when the FAA Unmanned Aircraft Systems Beyond Visual Line of Sight Aviation Rulemaking Committee (also known as ARC) released its final report in March 2022, outlining ways BVLOS drone flights might be implemented in the U.S.
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