Washington, D.C. — With the support of U.S. Rep. John Katko (NY-24), the House passed legislation last week to reauthorize the programs of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 is a five-year bill which provides long-term stability for the nation’s aviation community, continues investment in U.S. airports, and makes necessary reforms to improve American competitiveness and safety in aviation.
Importantly for Central New York, this legislation reauthorizes the Griffiss NUAIR test site for 6 years and prioritizes the unmanned aerial systems (UAS) work already underway at the site. It makes significant strides in safely and efficiently integrating unmanned aircraft systems into the National Airspace. The legislation also includes provisions authored by Rep. Katko to create a remote air traffic control tower pilot program to study technology that would give smaller, remote airports the opportunity to obtain affordable and safe air traffic control.
Katko, a member of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, said “The unmanned aerial systems industry has already begun to generate great economic growth in our region. With one of six designated FAA test sites located here in Upstate New York at Griffiss International Airport, this legislation will allow our region to continue to grow as a hub for national research as we work to integrate UAS into the national airspace. Moreover, the FAA reauthorization that the House approved today makes critical updates to ensure that our country’s aviation infrastructure is safe, modern, and competitive.”
“The NUAIR Alliance supports the House’s proposed Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reauthorization bill which will extend the test site designation through 2024, and further encourage and enable research and development of sense and avoid and Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BLVOS) testing,” said Major General Marke F. “Hoot” Gibson (ret), chief executive officer, NUAIR Alliance. “This is an important time for the FAA to support the UAS Test Sites as they have proven themselves in critical research efforts to advance the UAS industry. New York’s designation as a test site positions us to develop a comprehensive ecosystem that connects technology, innovation, and policy to safely integrate drones into commercial airspace. New York state has led to the development of what will be the only operational BVLOS corridor in the country to develop next generation of unmanned systems. Likewise, local school districts are partnering on groundbreaking initiatives such as the development of the first ever high-school CTE program for drones. These efforts coupled with local industry expertise, unparalleled investments and visionary leadership have put us at the forefront of research for drones and unmanned systems. This bill will enable this industry leading work to continue which in turn supports the efforts of the FAA. We thank Congressman John Katko for his recognition and partnership, and for his support of this bill. We look forward to continuing this important work together.”
With the advocacy of Rep. Katko, the legislation includes the following important components for Central New York:
- Reauthorizes the Griffiss NUAIR test site for 6 years. The 2012 FAA Modernization and Reform Act authorized seven test sites to test integrating UAS into the national airspace, which NUAIR successfully competed for and won. This bill ensures NUAIR can continue its work as a leading innovator in UAS technology and integration.
- Prioritizes UAS work already underway at Griffiss, including studying sense-and-avoid technology and low-altitude UAS traffic management (UTM) systems. It also makes the permitting process less burdensome to expand sense-and-avoid and beyond line of sight systems at the Griffiss NUAIR test site.
- Makes significant strides in safely and efficiently integrating unmanned aircraft systems into the National Airspace. This legislation promotes greater utilization of test ranges, like NUAIR, to ensure safe integration of UAS into national airspace. It also makes the permitting process less burdensome for commercial use of UAS, fostering innovation and growth in this budding industry.
- Includes Katko legislation to create a remote air traffic control tower pilot program to study technology that would give smaller, remote airports the opportunity to obtain affordable and safe air traffic control. The inclusion of this language in today’s legislation has the potential to grow businesses based in Central and Upstate New York that produce this technology.