FAA OKs upstate NY site to test civilian use of unmanned aircraft

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The Federal Aviation Administration said that an upstate New York international airport has been approved to conduct research into integrating drones into the national airspace.

Griffiss International Airport in Rome, N.Y., is the fifth of six congressionally mandated test sites to become operational, the agency said in a Aug. 7 press release.

Congress issued a September 30, 2015 deadline for the FAA to ensure that drones or unmanned aircraft systems can be safely integrated into U.S. airspace. The agency has created a five-year roadmap and selected six test sites to conduct research.

The FAA granted Griffiss a two-year certificate of waiver or authorization to use PrecisionHawk Lancaster Platform UAS, which weighs about three pounds and has a wingspan of four feet.

Specially, the drone projects include detection of insects, weeds, diseases and other crop-related data. Drones will fly at or below 400 feet and their operation will last up to an hour, the release said.

In addition to the drone research, Griffiss will also "evaluate methods for scouting agricultural fields using different types of sensors, including visual, thermal and multispectral equipment, which will benefit farms regionally and nationally," the release said.

The four other approved FAA test sites are located in Alaska, Nevada, North Dakota and Texas.

For more:
- read the FAA press release

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