RPAs Play Together on the Taxiway

New York Air National Guard MQ-9 Reaper remotely piloted aircraft are performing taxiing runs alongside civil air traffic at Syracuse International Airport, paving the way for federal approval to fly from Hancock Field Air National Guard Base. “Our goal [all] along has been to fly off of Hancock Field and today’s taxi event is another step towards this goal,” 174th Attack Wing Commander Col. Greg Semmel said in a release. The unit conducts pilot and sensor operator training from Hancock—located at the civil airport, but the Reapers currently fly from Wheeler-Sack Army Airfield on Ft. Drum, north of Syracuse. The unit began limited taxi-trials on an ANG ramp at Hancock back in August, and expanded to airport-wide runs, developing procedures with air traffic control and other aircraft on Dec. 6. Officials are working with the Federal Aviation Administration to clear Reapers to transit civilian airspace from Hancock to Ft. Drum’s range-space. Clearance is expected in early 2015, states the release.