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Domestic drone industry could bring $443 million to New York

Ryan Delaney

New York state is poised to become one of the nation's leading economic beneficiaries of a burgeoning domestic drone industry, according to a new report from an industry trade group.

The Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, or AUVSI, says domestic drones will rise to become a $13.6 billion national industry in the three years following the permitted use of drones in American airspace, which is scheduled to begin in late 2015.

The group says the figure will rise to $82.1 billion by the end of 2025. Job creation is estimated at 70,000 in the first three years and 103,000 by 2025.

The economic impact report, which is an updated version of one published in 2010, breaks down the economic impact on a state-by-state basis. AUVSI puts New York state at ninth in the country for biggest benefactors from the industry. California and Washington State will lead the country.

For New York, AUVSI says 2,276 new jobs will be created in the next three years, amounting to a $443 million impact. Those figures could grow if upstate New York wins a designation as a federal test site for drones, something it bid to do last month.

The Federal Aviation Administration was tasked by Congress to come up with regulations for the domestic use of drones. It has a September 2015 deadline and as part of that process, will name six testing sites around the country.

"There is a good understanding that [a test site] is something that will cause more jobs and more of an impact to those six winners," says Michael Toscano, AUVSI's CEO.

High growth rate

The group expects the drone industry to grow faster than the national economy, once integration begins.

"Three to five years is a reasonable time for the entry of this into an economy. We’re looking at initially high rates of growth, then leveling off where it’s growing just a tad faster than the economy," predicts Darryl Jenkins, author of the report and a former aeronautics professor at George Washington University.

Drones are expected to have a wide range of uses, including first response situtations, agriculture, news gathering and eventually cargo delivery. Early jobs in the field will be in engineering and manufacturing, followed by training and operations.

The report warns the country will lose billions of dollars every year the integration of drones is delayed.

WRVO/Central New York reporter for the Innovation Trail
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