Delegation, Lt. Gov. UAS Team Meet with FAA to Help Make Grand Forks Region Premier Hub for UAS Operations

ND Leaders Work to Pass Legislation to Integrate UAS into NAS

WASHINGTON - Senators John Hoeven and Kent Conrad, Congressman Rick Berg, Lieutenant Governor Drew Wrigley and the North Dakota UAS Integration Team today met with Michael Huerta, Acting Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to present a proposal for integrating Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) into the National Airspace (NAS) using partnerships and infrastructure in North Dakota. The state’s leaders have been pressing the FAA to make the Grand Forks region the premier northern hub for UAS operations.

            “The UAS work being done in North Dakota provides a good opportunity for the FAA to incorporate these systems into the National Airspace,” said the North Dakota leaders. “With clear skies, strong existing UAS programs, and a unified group of stakeholders to support a pilot project, our state is a prime location for new operations. We’re working to do all we can to make the Grand Forks region a premier northern hub for these aviation systems.”

The congressional delegation has worked to include provisions in both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives versions of the FAA Reauthorization bill 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 military and civilian systems. Other provisions in the FAA bill must be reconciled before it is signed into law.  

In a September letter to the FAA Administrator, the delegation and governor pressed the agency to establish a test site for UAS integration in North Dakota. The leaders offered the expertise of the North Dakota UAS Integration Team to aid the agency’s efforts and requested today’s meeting to ensure the FAA works with the team to move forward UAS operations in North Dakota.

North Dakota Adjutant General David Sprynczynatyk also attended the meeting, along with the North Dakota UAS Integration Team: retired Brigadier General Al Palmer, Director of University of North Dakota UAS Center of Excellence; Maynard Herting, Executive Director of Unmanned Applications Institute International; John Walker, SeaTec and former FAA Program Director of Airspace; Larry Taborksy, North Dakota Aeronautics Commission; Cindy Schreiber-Beck, North Dakota Aeronautics Commission; Josh Simmers, Aerospace Business Development Manager at the North Dakota Department of Commerce; and Carol Goodman, Cavalier County Economic Development Executive Director.

ND Leaders, UAS Team Meet with FAA