Officials suggest Rome drone test site to Walmart and Amazon
Late Thursday, Oneida County Executive Anthony J. Picente Jr. and Rep. Anthony J. Brindisi, D-22, Utica, released a letter addressing the heads of both companies and inviting them to test UAS technology at the federally designated drone testing grounds and test facility at Griffiss International Airport in Rome, NY.
The Rome Sentinel reports that in the letter the county officials cited news reports of approval by the Federal Aviation Administration in August of Amazon’s plans for a fleet of package-delivery drones. That followed approval of similar plans by UPS and Wing.
Two years ago Amazon declined when Picente offered the company to test its drone delivery service in Central New York, citing Griffiss, the former Air Force base with a long runway centrally located in the Northeast, and the adjacent business park.
This time, the Brindisi and Picente letters promote the county-owned test site with its variety of radar and related instruments for monitoring drone flights used for proving the safety and reliability and performance of unmanned aircraft.
The Rome drone test site also offers a 50-mile-long unmanned aviation corridor that extends all the way to Syracuse, which allows for flying drones beyond-visual-line-of-sight (BVLOS). The ability to fly drones safely beyond the visual line of sight off the operator is a crucial component of safe drone deliveries.
In the letter the county officials also promote the presence of Rome Lab which is a state-supported $5 million grant that is available to help companies create jobs from commercializing drones.
“We believe that Oneida County’s UAS Test Site, Griffiss International Airport, and its elite personnel would afford unique capabilities to Amazon as you continue to develop the company’s drone capabilities and work to ensure they are able to safely integrate into the national airspace,” Brindisi and Picente said in their letters, separately to Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and Walmart CEO Doug McMillon.
“We strongly encourage you to consider our test site as future UAS testing needs arise for Amazon.”
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