Press Release

At Gillibrand Urging, FAA Approves Flights of Hancock Air National Guard Unmanned Aircraft Above Fort Drum

Oct 14, 2011

Washington, D.C. – At the urging of U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has approved a Certificate of Authorization for a program to fly unmanned aircraft in Northern New York from Fort Drum into the special use airspace. These flights provide invaluable training for pilots of unmanned flight vehicles. Earlier this year, Senator Gillibrand fought for the approval of an evaluation of the pilot program as part of the FY2012 National Defense Authorization Act.

“Recognizing the value that unmanned vehicles have had in our War on Terror, I am very supportive of our military’s need to adequately test these craft,” Senator Gillibrand said. “The lack of adequate authority to research these technologies is a potential impediment to our ability to counter the threats from hostile nations and groups.  Establishing these authorities would support the national security goal, while ensuring that any safety concerns are addressed before a full, nation-wide decision occurs.”   

A new program in Northern New York would allow unmanned aerial vehicles to be flown for testing purposes in special use airspace. After this phase, the next authorization would allow flights from Hancock International Airport to Fort Drum, a new test range that would keep unmanned aerial vehicles from being driven back-and-forth between Syracuse and Fort Drum, ending problematic hassles for both our military personnel and New York drivers.  Current regulations only allow unmanned aerial vehicles to be flown on a case-by-case basis.