Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente and Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi want to know why Griffiss International Airport was not included in a federal drone integration pilot program.

Picente and Brindisi have written to U.S Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, asking why the Federal Department of Transportation did not accept New York's bid for the UAS Pilot program.

They also want to know how Griffiss can be reconsidered for the program.

Picente says for the DOT not to select the UAS Test Site at Griffiss for the program isn't just extremely disappointing, it's baffling.

"It appears this important decision was unjustly tainted by politics rather being based on merit and our partners are at the very least owed an explanation for this terrible oversight," said Picente.

These are the letters written by Brindisi and Picente:

Dear Secretary Chao:

I am writing to express my disappointment that the proposal from New York State, Amazon, and other partners as a participant in the Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Integration Pilot Program was not accepted. In doing so, I would like to find out why the application for this project was rejected, as well as asking for another opportunity for New York and Amazon’s participation in this project.   

 In 2013, the NUAIR Alliance of Syracuse was rightfully selected as one of six national test sites to begin work on integrating UAS technology into our nation’s airspace. NUAIR was selected based upon a slew of objective mandates tied to climate, airspace and other unique geographical attributes. To this day, NUAIR has been a benefit to the FAA as you collect critical data on integration.   

 When it comes to this most recent decision, New York State should have been selected. The application included the use of NUAIR’s test corridor between Syracuse and the Griffiss International Airport in Rome, along with several other sites that offered unique environments. 

The work that is already ongoing in UAS testing and research has been recognized by many as outstanding, and New York State offered significant financial support for the test project. With all these advantages, I do not understand how ten other projects in other areas could be selected for this UAS Integration Pilot Program. 

 Again, I would like to find out why New York’s application was not selected, and what can be done for its immediate reconsideration.  I am available to discuss this project at any time at (315) 732-1055. 

Thank you for your interest in this very important issue. 


Anthony Brindisi

Member, New York State Assembly


 Dear Secretary Chao,

I am writing to express my complete disappointment that the proposal from New York State, Oneida County, Amazon and other partners for the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration Pilot Program was denied. Since our application was strong, I’m left to believe this decision must have been unduly tainted by politics instead of being based on merit. I must agree with Congressman John Katko when he calls this decision “confounding.”  

Since 2013, Griffiss International Airport, owned and operated by the County of Oneida, has been one of seven national test sites integrating Unmanned Air Systems into our nation’s airspace. Our partnership with the NUAIR Alliance has already made the FAA test site the most technologically-advanced site in the nation. Our combination of capabilities and investment from our partners including New York State, Griffiss International Airport and NUAIR clearly puts this site on the forefront of UAS integration and testing.  

The outstanding work we have put forth at our test site has already been highly-recognized and many more advancements are being made as we speak. Our range instrumentation is without parallel and we have conducted and continue to carry out task orders for NASA. The 50-mile designated UTM corridor being developed between Rome and Syracuse, New York is not being duplicated anywhere in the country. That, with all these advantages, and more than five years of successful testing already under our belts, we were not chosen for the UAS Integration Pilot Program, is mystifying. 

This should have been an easy decision. While our test site will continue to be a leader in the UAS industry regardless of this egregious decision, I once again must reiterate my disappointment in the clear appearance that politics, not merit, drove this decision.  

I would like the opportunity to hear the reasons we were not selected and discover how we can remedy this immediately.   

I am available to discuss this project at any time at 315-798-5800. 


Anthony J. Picente Jr.

Oneida County Executive

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