FAA extends beyond line of sight drone testing zone in New York State


The FAA has given permission to fly drones beyond visual line of sight in an extended 35 mile zone in New York State, USA.

The beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) zone is within an existing 50 mile drone operations corridor will be used for testing unmanned drone flights at longer ranges and advanced drone technology.

Current regulations in the USA require drone operators to always be able to see their drone, limiting the ability to fly long distances. The ability to safely fly BVLOS is seen as key to unlocking the full potential and economic advantage of routine commercial drone operations such as medical and package deliveries.

Non-profit NUAIR (Northeast UAS Airspace Integration Research Alliance) has been operating an eight-by-four mile area of airspace for BVLOS testing from the New York UAS (Unmanned aircraft systems) Test Site at Griffiss International Airport since 2019 to the south of the airport. The new BVLOS airspace extends west of Griffiss towards Oneida Lake increasing their overall BVLOS airspace to 35 miles.

drone testing corridor

The drone corridor in New York State (Image: NUAIR)

“We have a long track record of safe UAS test flights and real-life implementation, including BVLOS operations,” said NUAIR chief of operations Tony Basile. “This new BVLOS airspace authorization will allow us to test more advanced, long-range flights and help us prove BVLOS operations can be done safely – the key component in realizing the true economic advantage of commercial drone operations.”

NUAIR will use the ground-based surveillance systems (GBSS) installed throughout the corridor to monitor air traffic and detect intruder aircraft for BVLOS operations that are taking place at or below 400ft. Visual observers may also be deployed during BVLOS operations to assure safety of operations.

NUAIR has conducted over 3,800 UAS test flights at the New York UAS Test Site, within New York’s 50-mile Drone Corridor, equating to more than 950 flight hours since operations began in 2014. This new authorization will help advance the reality of routine commercial drone operations and continue to involve companies from around the world, said NUAIR.

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