New York Reapers Get More Airspace

The Federal Aviation Administration has authorized the New York Air National Guard’s 174th Attack Wing in Syracuse to fly its MQ-9 Reaper remotely piloted aircraft over a larger portion of the state, reported Syracuse’s Post-Standard on Monday. Col. Greg Semmel, 174th AW commander, briefed reporters on this change at the wing’s headquarters at Hancock Field on Aug. 5. The wing has been operating MQ-9s—it now has four—from Fort Drum’s Wheeler-Sack Army Airfield near Watertown since October 2011 as part of the wing’s Reaper schoolhouse activities. The MQ-9 training flights have taken place to date over a large swath of northern New York. The FAA has now cleared them to stretch into restricted airspace further south over parts of central New York, including Madison, Onondaga, and Oswego counties, according to the newspaper’s report. The extra airspace will give the wing more opportunities to operate the MQ-9s around bad weather, thereby reducing the amount of delayed or cancelled training sorties, said Semmel.