FAA Clears Private Drone Use Upstate

Aug 8, 2014

Private drones have been cleared for flight over upstate New York, as part of a national testing program and the first flights will be used in agriculture.

The alliance of colleges and defense contractors known as NUAIR has been waiting for the Federal Aviation Administration to clear it for takeoff for most of the year.

NUAIR and upstate New York is one of six remotely-piloted aircraft test sites the FAA named late last year. It’s the fifth to get clearance to operate.

The FAA’s first testing certificate was given to the Cornell Cooperative Extension. The extension will fly a small drone over two farms in western New York. They’ll be using the drone to detect weeds and pests, as well as monitor crop patterns and soil erosion.

NUAIR has a handful of more testing applications pending with the FAA. It will coordinate testing out of the former Griffiss Air Force Base in Rome. It also has approved airspace off the coast of Massachusetts.

Proponents hope having a test site will make the region a hub in a growing, multi-billion dollar industry. But there are numerous privacy and safety concerns associated with the rise of domestic drones too.