Delegation, Governor Press FAA to Build on North Dakota's Operations to Integrate UAS into National Airspace

WASHINGTON - Senators John Hoeven and Kent Conrad, Congressman Rick Berg and Governor Jack Dalrymple today called on the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to make North Dakota the first test site for integrating Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) into the National Airspace (NAS).  In a letter to FAA Administrator J. Randolph Babbitt, the North Dakota leaders offered the newly formed North Dakota UAS Integration Team as a resource to help establish the test site in North Dakota.


            “North Dakota is uniquely situated to be a primary test site for the FAA in the integration of UAS into the NAS—one that could serve as a model to be deployed nationally after being proven in North Dakota,” the delegation and governor state in a letter to Babbitt.


The group cites the Grand Forks Air Force Base, Customs and Border Protection UAS missions in the state, the UAS Center of Excellence at the University of North Dakota and North Dakota’s uncongested air space in calling for the FAA to establish a test site in North Dakota. Additionally, the delegation and governor request that the FAA meet with the North Dakota UAS Integration Team, and use the group’s technical expertise to ensure a smooth integration process. The Integration Team is developing a plan for a North Dakota UAS integration pilot project and is comprised of members representing the aviation community, the University of North Dakota, North Dakota National Guard, and local and state economic development officials, as well as private companies. 

The congressional delegation and governor have been aggressively working with the state’s UAS community, including the UAS Center of Excellence and the Red River Valley Working Group in Grand Forks, to maintain the state’s leadership in UAS technologies and to grow their operations. The congressional delegation authored amendments to both the U.S. Senate and House of Representative’s versions of the FAA Reauthorization Act that authorize the FAA to work with the military to integrate UAS into the NAS and to establish test sites and training centers for the systems. 

“North Dakota has top subject matter experts with deep experience in UAS development and operations, unified support from the aviation community, and the necessary airspace, climate diversity, and open terrain to safely test UAS integration. We look forward to continuing to work with you to make North Dakota the first state to successfully pilot the integration of UAS into the NAS,” the letter states.