Hoeven Amendment to Authorize UAS Test Sites for Three Years Included in FAA Extension

Measure Strengthens UAS Research and Development in Grand Forks

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven today announced that the U.S. Senate and House have agreed on an extension of the FAA Reauthorization, which includes the senator’s proposal to provide a longer-term authorization for the nation’s six unmanned aerial systems (UAS) test sites. This reauthorization includes the Northern Plains UAS Test Site, headquartered in Grand Forks. The measure now goes to the president for signature.

Under current law, the test sites’ authorization would have expired next year, but the Hoeven amendment will now extend their authorization across the next three fiscal years, running through the end of September 2019.

The Senate originally approved Hoeven’s provision for a five-year extension when it passed its FAA Reauthorization bill in April; however, the House didn’t pass an FAA reauthorization measure. Hoeven then worked with his colleagues to reconcile the positions of the two chambers and secured a three year UAS reauthorization even though the bill provides a one year extension for most other FAA activities. The Senate and House are expected to vote on the FAA extension bill this week.

“The test sites have made remarkable progress toward their mission, including nighttime operations, flying multiple aircraft in the same airspace and researching and testing aircraft up to an altitude of 1,200 feet,” Hoeven said. “Nevertheless, they still have work before them, and that will require investment and support from industry partners. If they can be sure those sites will be operational beyond the end of Fiscal Year 2017, those partners will have a greater incentive to use the FAA test sites.”

The FAA Reauthorization bill passed by Congress in February 2012 included an amendment introduced by Hoeven that directed the agency to establish six test sites tasked with integrating UAS into the National Airspace. The six sites were established beginning in December 2013 following a competitive process, and Grand Forks Air Force Base was named as one of the sites.

Other important provisions in the final FAA reauthorization bill include:

? Airport Security

• Addresses the “insider threat” of terrorism by improving security vetting of aviation employees with access to secure airport areas
• Moves passengers into secure areas more quickly by helping more Americans enroll in PreCheck so we don’t have large crowds waiting to be screened in unsecure areas
• Enhances security for international flights bound for the United States
• Adds more prevention and response security teams, which often include bomb-sniffing canines, and expands training and preparedness of local airport security personnel so we’re better prepared for active shooter threats

? Strengthens Consumer Protections:
• Requires air carriers to provide a refund of paid baggage fees when items are lost or delayed.
• Requires airlines to automatically return fees for services purchased but not received
• Increases accessibility for families when flying by allowing families to purchase seats next to each other, and allowing family members to accompany minors through the airport security screening process.

? General Aviation:
• Includes the bipartisan Pilot’s Bill of Rights 2, legislation Senator Hoeven cosponsored, which reforms the Third Class Medical Certificate process for non-commercial pilots.

? Aviation Reforms:
• Establishes a working group on improving air service to small communities to help attract and retain air transportation service in small communities