Hoeven Calls on FAA to Expedite UAS Test Flight Approvals

BISMARCK, N.D. – In a letter sent last week to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) head Michael Huerta, Senator John Hoeven said the nation’s six designated Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) test sites could be doing more to integrate UAS into the National Air Space.

The senator called on the administrator to expedite approvals to test UAS flights in concurrent air space and take other steps to more fully utilize the sites’ specialized capabilities. Hoeven also asked Huerta to meet with him to discuss these issues and future operations at the test sites.

“When Congress mandated the creation of six UAS test sites as part of the 2012 FAA authorization bill, it intended for the sites to play a leading role in integrating UAS into the NAS,” Hoeven wrote. “I continue to believe that UAS technology represents a key part of the future of aviation and that U.S. aviation leadership depends on the safe integration of UAS into the NAS.”

Hoeven introduced language in the FAA Reauthorization bill passed by Congress in February 2012 that directed the agency to establish the test sites and integrate UAS into the National Airspace System. Last December, North Dakota was selected as one of the six sites.

Hoeven has also signed on to a letter to Huerta from senators representing test-site states asking him to expedite Certificates of Authorization (COA), which are essentially permits allowing UAS operations in federal air space.

“To research UAS technology and determine appropriate industry regulations and standards, Congress charged the FAA with establishing six UAS Test Sites,” the senators wrote. “These test sites are located in our states and are an integral part of determining the safest and most efficient way of opening our national airspace to UAS technology. The work being done at the test sites is critical for the industry to further develop and advance UAS technology, and for the operators and manufacturers of these state of the art systems to ensure they meet the safety and privacy standards necessary for wide-spread use.”