The operational footprint and activity range of drone development organization, Northeast UAS Airspace Integration Research Alliance (NUAIR), is set to get considerably larger through its participation in a new US-Canadian consortium aiming to create what it calls “the first international advanced air mobility (AAM) corridor” between New York and Quebec.
As DroneDJ reported when word of the plan arose last month, NUAIR said it had begun working with Quebec-based vertiport infrastructure design, construction, and management company Vports to study the feasibility of establishing an AAM corridor between Syracuse International Airport and Quebec. That effort bore fruit this week with the two groups officially launching a consortium to fulfill that objective with a handful of other partners from both countries.
In making the announcement, NUAIR said the project will begin test flights of AAM electric takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft for planned cargo transport services sometime next year.
In addition to specifying the exact contours of the corridor and running trials of requisite operational tech – specifically air traffic systems compatible with those for traditional craft – the project aims to expand the ecosystem already growing from NUAIR’s ongoing work developing drone and other uncrewed air vehicles. It has done so through increasingly diversified activity within its 50-mile dedicated flight zone between Griffiss International Airport in Rome and Syracuse International Airport in central New York.
Just last month, that work got a major boost when the Federal Aviation Administration authorized beyond visual line of sight drone flights that had been limited to certain parts of the corridor to begin operating across its entire expanse. That will presumably facilitate NUAIR’s efforts to eventually seek similar approval for testing automated AAM cargo craft in the international corridor between the Syracuse airport and Vports’ vertiport in Mirabel, Quebec.
NUAIR says a recent study estimated that fully developed drone and AAM transport and other services could create as many as 8,100 full-time jobs, and generate $1.3 billion in income for the central New York area by 2040. The drive to make the state a dynamo of emerging eVTOL activities – a kind of Silicon Valley of the skies – led state officials last month to provide an additional $21 million in funding to NUAIR from their “Central New York Rising” Upstate Revitalization Initiative.
Yet CEO Ken Stewart says the benefits of NUAIR’s work to unleash the potentials of new air activities promise to reach far beyond its central New York base, which its consortium work establishing the international AAM corridor will seek to demonstrate.
“There are currently over 5,000 underutilized regional airports throughout the United States,” Stewart said. “The development of this international AAM corridor between Syracuse, NY and Montreal will help lay the foundation for regional air mobility operations for those underutilized airports, assisting with cargo deliveries and strengthening United States supply chains. NUAIR will build on the foundation of its 50-mile UAS Corridor, and UAS traffic management systems and our work with NASA on Vertiport Automation Systems to integrate this next generation aircraft into America’s national airspace.”