What the status of the UTM Corridor Project?

For that question, we turn to Anthony Basile, to the Chief Operations Officer for the Northeast UAS Airspace Integration Research Alliance, Inc. (NUAIR), a non-profit corporation leading a coalition of New York and Massachusetts aerospace industry and academic institutions, working together to establish a site for the testing and certification of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) and the training of their operators.

Anthony is a retired Colonel with the Airforce. A 1977 graduate of Fordham University, Anthony spent 29 years with the 174th Fighter Wing, Syracuse, NY, serving as its commander from 2003 until 2008. While at the 174th, he accumulated 4000 hours flying the unit’s A-10 and F-16 aircraft. Anthony has logged 67 combat sorties, including 51 during Operation Desert Storm in 1991. Among his numerous military awards are the Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross with Valor, Meritorious Service Medal, and Air Medal with 4 devices.

From 2008 to until his retirement in 2010, Anthony was assigned as Chief of Staff of the New York Air National Guard. In this capacity, he served as the primary advisor to The Adjutant General in all matters dealing with the Air National Guard, both in supporting the global war on terrorism and providing federal and state disaster relief.

Following his retirement, Anthony took on the role as Airport Service Group Manager for C&S Engineers, in Syracuse from 2010 thru the end of 2013, overseeing the engineering planning, design, and construction of the firm’s 30 regional airport clients.

In this episode of the Drone Radio Show, Anthony talks about the NUAIR Alliance, the FAA Test Site at Griffiss International Airfield and the efforts to create a 50-mile UTM corridor.

In This Episode

  • Introduction. Anthony Basile is the Chief Operations Officer for the Northeast UAS Airspace Integration Research Alliance, Inc. (NUAIR), a non-profit corporation leading a coalition of New York and Massachusetts aerospace industry and academic institutions, working together to establish a site for the testing and certification of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) and the training of their operators. The New York FAA UAS Test is located at Griffiss International Airport in Rome, New York. The site has been in operation for about 5 years.
  • About the NUAIR Alliance. NUAIR manages the test site at Griffiss Airport, which is owned by Oneida County, New York. It is an alliance of business, research and public membership.  It started with about 40 members in New York State and Massachusetts. The Alliance now boasts about 300 members and includes 40 universities.
  • UTM Corridor. The UTM Corridor will be deployed in two phases – Initial Operating Capability (IOC) and Final Operational Capability (FOC). The first 15 miles of the corridor will be operational by mid-2019, with the remainder of the corridor being operational by mid-2020. The project is comprised by a number of different sensors, capable of detecting a variety of aircraft, including small multi-rotors. It sees all general aviation, both cooperating and non-cooperating. NUAIR is waiting for final authorization to conduct BVLOS missions in an 8 mile by 4 mile area, 1,000 feet high. The authorization doesn’t specify a particular unmanned vehicle. Any vehicle can quality for BVLOS testing if they are able to perform the avoid requirements. This gives the test facility great flexibility in conducting such missions. The ultimate objective of the UTM Corridor is to provide a controlled testing environment to allow other clients to use to create sensors, software and hardware and flight test their systems.
  • Lessons Learned. Nothing gets into the National Air Space without going through the FAA and the FAA has a very methodical approach to evaluating ideas. It takes patience and a full understanding of the ‘crawl-walk-run’ philosophies of bureaucracies. Over time, NUAIR has gained credibility with the FAA and has been granted more and more autonomy. Still, NUAIR like other test sites find themselves navigating between Congress that created the sites to advance the use of unmanned vehicles and the FAA, which is charged with protecting the safety of the national air space.
  • Economic Development.  New York State committed significant resources to the test site as a way to create jobs and stimulate economic development in the region. In the past five years, New York has seen 2,000 jobs related to the U.S. industry with another 3,000 to 4,000 jobs expected in the next 24 months.
  • Genius New York. Genius is one of the largest start-up programs for the UAS industry. The program selects 5-6 companies ranging from $1 Million to $400,000. Genius 3 will kick off in the next weeks. New York State provides $5 Million annually to support the program in an effort encourage innovation, investment and jobs.
  • Next Steps. NUAIR has 3 main objectives over the next several months.  The first is to continue building out the operation of the corridor. The NUAIR staff is also responding to two RFPs, one related to BVLOS mission capabilities and the other related to a NASA urban air mobility challenge. The Alliance is also waiting to hear from the FAA on the UPP program, FAA’s version of the IPP program released by the White House earlier this year.
  • Perspective. In Anthony’s view, the UAS industry is the new frontier in aviation, almost like aviation is reborn. He doesn’t fly unmanned systems, but as a retired military pilot, he still enjoys flying general aircraft. And he wants to see the unmanned aircraft integration into the national airspace done right. Every step forward, every win is exciting, as is the industry itself right now.
  • Closing. Anthony stresses that no matter what one is trying to do in this industry, please do it right. Don’ cut corners. It’s hard to regain the credibility of the FAA once lost, which can damage your plans for a very long time. Make sure do your best to do it right and the integration into the National Airspace System be a smooth transition and we’ll all be better for it.

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