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Rome USA: Second phase of federal program to develop high-density air traffic control for drones begins

Live drone flights and testing of components are scheduled to begin this month at the unmanned aircraft test site in Rome, USA, as part of the second phase of a federal program to develop a high-density air traffic control system for drones, reports the romesentinel.com.

The site at Griffiss International Airport in Rome, chosen by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), is one of two locations for the next phase in developing the control system. The other area is the Virginia Tech Mid- Atlantic Aviation Partnership in
Blacksburg, Virginia, USA.

Oneida County owns the airport at the former Air Force base.County Executive Anthony Picente Jr, said, “That our site has been chosen from what is already a small, elite group is a testament to the quality of work and collaboration of our partners in Rome.”The site at Griffiss is operated by Northeast UAS (unmanned aircraft systems) Airspace Integration Research, or NUAIR.

The Rome Sentinel writes,“An unmanned traffic management (UTM) system would function much like the current manned air traffic one. To promote the use of drones for functions like package delivery or medical supply drop-offs, a safe, universal system is needed nationwide.”

Rome’s role is in testing control systems and showing they work reliably and safely. It is part of a 50-mile corridor extending to Syracuse with infrastructure, such as radar, for testing drones and documenting the effectiveness of control systems. The Sentinel continues, “A part of it is among a handful of sites nationwide given the authority to fly drones beyond the operators’ line of site, a crucial capability in proving that control and safety systems work properly.”

The first phase of the FAA’s program, completed in August 2019, tested capabilities such as the exchange of flight data among drone operators and generating an emergency “no-fly zone” for general unmanned aircraft to clear the skies for emergency response drones.

The next step, according to the FAA, includes testing of remote identification technology in higher volumes and density. The aim is to make sure control systems work in “increasingly complex environments..

As part of developing the test site, the county has begun a project converting a former Air Force hangar to an area for trialling drones in controlled, mostly indoor space. This project is known as SkyDome and USD9 million is being raised via State funds to help the project.

More than 3,000 advanced test flights, including traffic management, have been conducted at the test site over the past five years, according to NUAIR.

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(News Source: https://romesentinel.com)

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