Artic Shark Takes Flight over Griffiss
The small gray aircraft that has recently appeared in the Griffiss airport traffic pattern is an unmanned aircraft system (UAS) manufactured by Navmar Applied Sciences Corporation (NASC) located in Warminster, PA. NASC was contracted by the U.S. Government to build a special version of an existing and proven unmanned aerial vehicle UAV, the TigerShark, for use in the Arctic. NASC has chosen the name ArcticShark for this TigerShark variant that has been specially modified for cold-weather operations. Nearly 180 TigerSharks have been manufactured by NASC for use by various civilian and government customer here in the US and abroad, and have safely flown more than 100,000 flight hours.
The aircraft has three independent systems for command and control that provide redundant levels of safety. The aircraft is under direct control of highly qualified and very experienced pilots in the NASC Mobile Operations Center/Ground Control Station located at Griffiss International Airport, with air traffic control being coordinated by the Griffiss Airport Control Tower. ArcticShark flight operations at Griffiss are expected to be concluded no later than January 20, 2017.
Griffiss International Airport and the Rome area was selected for the TigerShark testing, over other locations around the country because of the capability and airspace at the airport as well as the local accommodations and the acceptance and willingness of the local citizens to embrace this new technology.
“We understand that there have been a few concerns regarding the noise levels of this platform. In an effort to lessen the noise impact to our neighbors, we are addressing these concerns by looking into a potential modification of the traffic pattern and/or coordinate higher altitudes for the aircraft to operate.” Said Commissioner of Aviation Russell Stark “However, you should know that the Griffiss UAS Test Site must consider and follow safety protocols before any changes can occur, as safety is and always will be our primary concern.”
The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International’s recent report, The Economic Impact of Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration in the United States, details the benefits of UAS Integration and Testing happening at airports like Griffiss. As the FAA integrates UAS’s into the National Airspace, the report is projecting more than 100,000 jobs will be created with an economic impact of more than $82 billion dollars through 2025.