FAA announces Rome, N.Y. UAV test site online

August 11, 2014
Aug. 11, 2014, Washington, D.C. - The FAA announced last week that the drone test site in Rome, N.Y. has started operations – the fifth of the six test sites to do so.

The site at Griffiss International Airport will focus on using drones for agricultural research and monitoring, utilizing a PrecisionHawk Lancaster Platform UAS. Flights of the three-pound, four-foot-wide drones will last less than an hour and take place below 400 feet.

"We are accomplishing two important missions with the launch of this test site," Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a statement. "The safe integration of unmanned aircraft into the NAS is our number one priority, but the agricultural research performed in Rome also may have far-reaching benefits to farmers in New York and across the nation."

With respect to drone operations in the Washington, DC, or New York area airspace, an FAA official told a recent gathering of pilots that the agency is still on track to release its rule covering small drones later this year, but that integrating remotely-piloted vehicles into the busiest airspace is still a distant goal.

"We're still years away from what you would see as a safe integration in the very busiest airspace in our system," John Hickey, the FAA's deputy associate administrator for aviation safety, told those gathered at an Air Line Pilots Association safety forum. He later added, "You'd be on a commercial flight – you look out the window and you're going to see a UAV fly by. We're not going to see that any time soon."

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