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ULC Robotics seeks lease agreement to test its unmanned aircraft at EPCAL

ULC Robotics is seeking a runway lease agreement from Riverhead Town to test unmanned aircraft the company uses to inspect infrastructure and utilities, according to Mike Passaretti, ULC’s aerial services program manager.

The Hauppauge-based company provides robotic field inspection services to the utility and energy industries throughout the northeastern United States and the United Kingdom.

Its local customers include PSEG-Long Island, National Grid and Con Edison, according to ULC’s attorney, Chris Kent.

The testing that is sought for the Enterprise Park at Calverton uses unmanned fixed-wing aircraft that can take off vertically, like a helicopter, and then transition to forward flight within 30 to 60 seconds, Mr. Passaretti said at Thursday’s Town Board work session.

“They can go anywhere from 45 to 55 miles per hour, depending on what they’re doing,” he said.

ULC is seeking to lease space on the town’s 7,000-foot runway, which, while currently inactive, is included in the land the town proposes to sell to Calverton Aviation & Technology.

“We don’t need the runway, per se, but we do need a wide open space,” Mr. Passaretti said.

ULC is looking to rent a 50-by-50 foot area of the runway.

The aircraft would stay over the runway at all times.

Asked about noise, Mr. Passaretti said it would make the same amount of noise as a window unit air conditioner from 300 feet away.

The unmanned aircraft they plan to use is a fixed-wing aircraft with a 10-foot wingspan, he said. It weighs about 36 pounds unloaded and they would fly it at about 50 pounds, accounting for a payload and fuel. The aircraft, which can take off and land vertically, uses both electricity and gas for propulsion, according to Mr. Passaretti.

The aircraft cannot fly above 400 feet, and ULC will only fly the aircraft during daylight hours Monday through Friday. They currently test the aircraft at the Edgewood Preserve in Commack, which ULC feels is too small. 

He said they have never had a major accident in 18 years.

“Everything we’ve done for the past 18 years is rooted in safety,” he said.

Town Board members said they would likely sign a one-year lease with ULC because anything longer would require a “qualified and eligible sponsor” hearing, in which ULC would have to provide it has the ability and finances to carry put their plan for the town-owned land.

ULC Robotics was one of three companies invited by CAT in October to pitch plans to the Town Board for working at EPCAL. The other two were Launcher, which had recently signed a lease agreement to use part of the taxiway at the eastern runway, and Unique Electric Solutions, which focuses on electrification of vehicular propulsion in commercial transportation.