Governor Hochul Announces New York’s 50-Mile Drone Corridor to Host First-In-the-Nation 5G Test Network for Unmanned Aircraft

MITRE Engenuity Open Generation 5G Consortium to Install 5G Unmanned Aircraft Systems Test Network in Syracuse to Rome Corridor Managed by NUAIR

5G Network Builds on State’s Nearly $70 Million Investment, Firmly Establishing New York’s Position as a Global Leader in Unmanned Aircraft Systems

Governor Kathy Hochul today announced the MITRE Engenuity Open Generation 5G Consortium will bring 5G to the New York State 50-mile unmanned aircraft systems corridor between Syracuse and Rome. Open Generation has determined this corridor is a prime location to launch the nation’s first 5G unmanned aircraft systems testing range, a designation that will greatly enhance New York’s position as a global leader in this emerging technology sector.

Gov. Kathy Hochul

“Our drone corridor being selected for the launch of the nation’s first 5G unmanned aircraft systems testing range further positions our state -specifically the Central New York and the Mohawk Valley region -as the global leader in the market for this cutting-edge technology,” Governor Hochul said. “Through our continued investment in the drone corridor, we are strengthening and growing our regional economies for generations to come.”

Assemblyman and Transportation Committee Chairman William Magnarelli said, “The New York State drone corridor established itself as a global-leader in this cutting-edge technology market. The continued investment in this area, including bringing 5G to the corridor, will increase opportunities for advancement of these businesses in the Central New York and the Mohawk Valley, so that the drone corridor businesses can maintain their position at the forefront of innovation in this industry.”

NUAIR, a New York-based nonprofit organization that provides expertise in unmanned aircraft systems and is a member of Open Generation, manages New York’s 50-mile unmanned aircraft systems corridor and is playing a vital role in advancing 5G innovation in unmanned aircraft systems, also known as UAS. With coordination from NUAIR, the corridor will include an experimentation hub with more than 100 square miles dedicated to 5G beyond-visual-line-of-site testing and long-range flight paths -a capability critical to the commercialization of safe and secure unmanned aircraft systems. 

According to Senator Rachel May, “5G technology paired with drones has many possible beneficial commercial uses. This technology has the potential to greatly improve the deployment of drones for infrastructure monitoring, installation of solar technology, faster and more efficient delivery of goods, and many others. It is exciting to see continued investment in our region from innovators.”

NY Senator, John W. Mannion

Senator John W. Mannion said, “New York continues to grow its leadership position in UAS research and development through partnerships with next generation companies like MITRE Engenuity. With our region hosting the nation’s first 5G UAS testing range, Central New Yorkers are now developing, building, testing, and bringing to market leading technologies while competing – and winning – in a global industry. Thank you to Governor Kathy Hochul, MITRE, and ESD for your partnership and support for upstate New York.”

New York State established itself as the nation’s premiere destination for drones and businesses at the forefront of innovation by making a $30 million investment in 2016 to develop the 50-mile flight traffic management system between Syracuse and Griffiss International Airport in Rome. In total, the state has invested nearly $70 million over the past five years to advance the unmanned aircraft systems industry in Central New York and the Mohawk Valley.

New York receiving the 5G technology for its drone corridor represents a new milestone for the sector’s continued development in the state. Within this corridor, strategic investments are accelerating industry growth by supporting emerging uses in key industries, including agriculture and forest management, transportation and logistics, media and film development, utilities and infrastructure, and public safety.

“Supporting innovative technology and emerging industries that will create the jobs of tomorrow is at the core of ESD’s mission. Both the agency and our regional economic development councils have been very focused on growing the UAS industry in Central New York and the Mohawk Valley,” Empire State Development Chief Operating Officer and Executive Deputy Commissioner Kevin Younis said. “MITRE’s selection for New York’s Drone Corridor to receive first-in-the-nation 5G technology represents a new milestone for the sector’s continued development in New York State.”

“New York will be the first FAA-designated UAS test site with a bespoke 5G network,” NUAIR CEO Ken Stewart said. “The industry is looking for an FAA and FCC approved communications network that has the capability and reliability needed for safe commercial drone operations. 5G holds the promise of unlocking scalable, economically viable drone operations and we are confident that our work in New York will help determine if 5G is a suitable solution for the UAS industry.”

“This first-in-the-nation 5G UAS test range will advance commercial UAS solutions and showcase the transformative potential of 5G,” said Charles Clancy, senior vice president, general manager of MITRE Labs, and chief futurist. “This initiative is a vital part of MITRE’s work to accelerate our nation’s development and deployment of advanced telecommunications technology.”

J. Ryan McMahon II County Executive

Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon is positive about the concept stating, “Central New York continues to be a global leader in unmanned aircraft systems and high-tech innovation. 5G technology holds the promise of enabling the reality of advanced drone operations like package and medical deliveries and I’m excited that Central New York is leading the way.”

Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh linked these developments to the city’s investment in 5G technology adding, “The addition of 5G to the UAS corridor adds to Syracuse’s leadership in ultra-high speed wireless technology. Implementation of a 5G wireless network in the city of Syracuse is already well underway with more than 175 5G sites installed. On the city’s south side, construction is advancing and hiring will begin soon at a technology manufacturing plant for 5G equipment. Having the fastest wireless service available to city residents and businesses is an important part of our Syracuse Surge strategy for inclusive growth in the New Economy. I thank Governor Hochul, Empire Statement Development and MITRE Engenuity Open Generation 5G Consortium for support and investment in creating the nation’s first 5G UAS testing range between Syracuse and Rome.”

Both the Central New York and Mohawk Valley Regions have world leading UAS ecosystems and the technology, resources, and economic incentives needed to conduct advanced 5G testing. The U.S. Air Force has been actively flying large, unmanned aircraft out of Syracuse Airport since 2015 and the city has already started preparing for the ‘fourth revolution’ of drones and 5G technology, replacing their streetlights with ‘smart’ streetlights capable of supporting a 5G communications network.

Assemblymember Pamela J. Hunter

Assemblywoman Pamela Hunter said, “New York’s continued investment in infrastructure that supports the UAS industry will ensure that CNY will lead in this field for many years to come. By testing UAS technology within 5G networks, we are preparing for and creating the future of this industry. I commend Governor Hochul for facilitating this important project and look forward to seeing our region become an even greater innovation hub.”

Rome is home to the New York State Unmanned Aircraft Systems Test Site, one of only seven FAA-Designated unmanned aircraft systems test sites in the United States. Owned by Oneida County and managed by NUAIR, the site consists of a highly instrumented unmanned aircraft systems testing facility at Griffiss International Airport in Rome and is part of New York’s 50-mile unmanned aircraft systems traffic management corridor between Rome to Syracuse.

The test site is part of the ever-growing 3,500-acre Griffiss Business and Technology Park, which is home to a multitude of high-tech, world-leading companies in cyber security, quantum computing, manufacturing and more. Sky Dome will complement the test site at Griffiss, providing year-round, indoor testing of advanced drone technologies, including artificial intelligence-based flight controls and autonomous swarms of small drones.

Many in the telecommunications industry consider 5G to be the ideal spectrum for unmanned aircraft systems operations and are looking to have it approved by the FAA and FCC for airborne use in airspace under 400 feet – the typical airspace used for commercial drone operations. Bluetooth and Wi-Fi are other bands of unlicensed spectrum used to fly drones, but are not reliable enough for safe, long range drone operations.

The 5G testing in New York will help prove to the FAA and FCC that the 5G cellular network meets acceptable aviation safety requirements, like what would be required for a wired communication or point-to-point radio link.


The MITRE Engenuity Open Generation 5G Consortium brings together market leaders, innovative startups, industry associations, academics, and government liaisons to solve complex 5G challenges that no one company can solve alone. This 5G research and development collaborative is leading unmanned aircraft systems over 5G innovation with use-case centric development in areas like emergency response, infrastructure inspection, package delivery, and asset management, creating generational technological impact while unlocking massive economic value.

NUAIR Alliance partners  -including New York, Michigan, Massachusetts, DRONERESPONDERS, the state Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services -will help advance the reality of a cohesive 5G network for scalable unmanned aircraft systems operations. Proving the safety, reliability, and capabilities of 5G technology in the unmanned aircraft systems space will prove the ability to use 5G in many other private and public sectors including government agencies like the U.S. Department of Defense.

Learn more about MITRE Engenuity visit

Learn more about NUAIR  – The Northeast UAS Airspace Integration Research Alliance, Inc., or NUAIR, Visit