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Schumer Fought To Include Extension Of FAA Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Test Sites – Like The One At Oneida County’s Griffiss International Airport – In Just-Passed FAA Reauthorization Bill To Ensure The Mohawk Valley & CNY Continue To Lead On UAS Research, Development, Safety & More

Schumer Led The Charge To Get FAA To Choose Oneida County and Griffiss As A Test Site To Put Region On The Map As A Leader In Developing Cutting-Edge UAS Technologies And For Safely Operating UAS In The Nation’s Airspace – And Fought This Year To Ensure This Prestigious Test Site, 1 Of Only 7 Nationwide – Did Not Expire This Year

Schumer: Extension of NY UAS Test Site Designation At Oneida County’s Griffiss International Airport Will Ensure The Mohawk Valley & CNY Can Soar To New Heights As Leader Of Global UAS Industry

After months of tireless advocacy, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer today announced that, following his all-out push, the Senate’s just-passed five-year Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization bill extends the designation for the NY UAS Test Site located at Oneida County’s Griffiss International Airport until 2028. Schumer said that Oneida County’s Griffiss test site is one of only seven UAS test sites nationwide, and this extension is vital for UAS research and development so the Mohawk Valley and Central NY can continue to advance UAS research, pioneer safe UAS operations in our national airspace, and accelerate UAS industry economic development across the region.

“This extension of Oneida County’s prestigious UAS test site designation at Griffiss Airport will ensure the Mohawk Valley and Central New York can soar to new heights on cutting-edge UAS technology. I fought to include this vital provision in the FAA bill I led to passage to ensure we continue to position the region to build on its global airspace leadership and to pioneer the safe integration of UAS into the national airspace,” said Senator Schumer. “As one of only seven test sites in the country, the innovation and research being done at Griffiss in Oneida County is transporting the Mohawk Valley and Central NY to the next frontier of scientific innovation and was exactly what I had in mind when I secured it back in 2014 and extended it in 2018. The sky is the limit for the Mohawk Valley.”

Schumer explained thanks to his relentless months-long efforts, the new UAS extension was included in the Senate’s final FAA bill. Without his personal advocacy, the UAS test sites would have expired last week. With the Senate’s passage of the bill, the extension ensures that the NY UAS Test Site at Oneida County’s Griffiss International Airport, which is operated by AX Enterprize and owned by Oneida County, remains at the forefront of public policy development, commercialization, and safe integration of UAS into the global airspace. Since its inception in 2014, the NY UAS Test Site at Oneida County’s Griffiss International Airport has worked with over 200 partners to position itself as a global industry leader.

Oneida County Executive Anthony J. Picente Jr. said, “Over the past 11 years, Oneida County’s FAA UAS Test Site at Griffiss International Airport has led the drone industry in research and development and taken innovation to places never before seen. We have revolutionized the capabilities of unmanned flights and made the New York Test Site the nation’s leader and a global epicenter. Together with our partner AX Enterprize, we will continue to operate this site at an elite level and take it to even further heights. I applaud Senator Schumer for securing the authorization for us to continue our good work and for his staunch support of our mission.”

"We are deeply grateful to Senator Schumer for his unwavering support and visionary leadership in securing a five-year reauthorization for the New York UAS Test Site in the FAA bill. His commitment not only underscores the national significance of the work done here in Rome, but also ensures that our region can continue to lead in innovation and safety in uncrewed aerial systems. This is a pivotal moment for our industry, and Senator Schumer's efforts have been instrumental in making it possible,” said Heather Hage, President & CEO, Griffiss Institute.

“I’m extremely appreciative of Senator Schumer’s support for the FAA Authorization of the UAS Test Sites that was codified in the 2024 FAA Reauthorization Bill,” said MC Chruscicki, Co-founder, AX Enterprize. “Oneida County’s NY UAS Test Site will continue to lead cutting edge collaborative research efforts with our military, homeland security and commercial partners. This is a key step in supporting Oneida County New York, our tribal nations, and the United States to secure our country while integrating drones safely into our society.”

Schumer said the FAA bill enables airports like Griffiss International Airport in Oneida County to implement and expand a program for unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) testing ranges. to Oneida County’s Griffiss test site, one of only seven FAA-Designated unmanned aircraft systems test sites in the United States, the Mohawk Valley and Central NY haves world-leading UAS ecosystems and technologies. The site consists of a highly instrumented unmanned aircraft systems testing facility at Oneida County’s Griffiss International Airport in Rome, is part of New York's 50-mile unmanned aircraft systems traffic management corridor between Rome to Syracuse, was the first of its kind at any UAS test site in the country, and has made Oneida County and Griffiss International Airport a strategic location for the growing UAS industry.

With the passage of the FAA bill, Oneida County and Griffiss will be able to carry out and update a program for the use of UAS test ranges to enable development, testing, and evaluation activities related to UAS or their associated technologies and to support the safe integration of UAS into the national airspace system (NAS). The bill includes $30 million over five years for the seven unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) test sites around the country, and provides the FAA ability to stand up two additional UAS test ranges in addition to the existing ones.

During the 2018 FAA reauthorization, Schumer fought for months and successfully secured an extension for the designation for the New York UAS Test Site located at Griffiss International Airport until 2023. This extension ensured that the New York UAS Test Site at Griffiss International Airport remains at the forefront of public policy development, commercialization, and safe integration of UAS into the global airspace.

Schumer has also long been an advocate for bringing UAS jobs and technology to Central New York. Schumer fought to increase the number of test sites in the National Airspace System for Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) from 4 to 7, which paved the way for Oneida County and local partners to apply. Through meetings Oneida County officials and local partners, a series of personal phone calls and meetings with former FAA Administrator Michael Huerta and former Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, Schumer worked to make the case that the FAA should select Oneida County’s application, led by Griffis International Airport, to be one of the seven national test sites for unmanned aerial systems (UAS) designation, and the FAA and U.S. Department of Transportation eventually heeded Schumer’s call.

Schumer has a strong history of delivering funding for Griffis International Airport’s UAS Test Site. In early 2023, Schumer secured $3 Million for Griffis Institute Smart-X Internet of Things (“IOT”) Living Lab, helping to connect NY’s UAS Test Site with Rome’s Air City and Woodhaven Riverwalk enabling New York State's first smart, autonomous-friendly village.  Later in 2023, Schumer and Gillibrand announced $1.2 Million for Rome Griffis International Airport from the Bipartisan Infrastructure law to modernize their Air Traffic Control Tower and ensure effective operations throughout the airport and UAS Test Site. In late 2018, Schumer created $6 million FAA funding stream Griffis Airport’s UAS Test Site to grow New York’s emerging leadership on drone technology, Schumer successfully delivered this funding via an $808k grant to Griffis Test Site.