Hoeven Celebrates First North Dakota-Made Unmanned Aerial System with ComDel, Altavian

Senator Has Worked to Make North Dakota the Nation's Premiere Hub for UAS Technology

WAHPETON, N.D. – Senator John Hoeven today marked the roll-out of the first unmanned aerial system (UAS) manufactured in North Dakota. Executives from ComDel Innovation and Altavian showcased the UAS at ComDel’s plant in Wahpeton. In February, ComDel and Altavian signed an agreement to manufacture unmanned aerial systems and components, and Hoeven worked with the companies to bring together public and private leaders from around the state to mark this important milestone for North Dakota’s UAS industry. The senator was unable to attend the event due to his responsibilities in Washington.

The UAS presented today is Altavian’s Nova F6500, a small, fixed-wing aircraft that will be used for data-collection in energy and agriculture operations. The companies are donating the aircraft to the Fargo Air Museum in recognition of the event’s significance to North Dakota’s long history of aeronautics excellence.

“Today marks an important step forward for the UAS industry in North Dakota,” Hoeven said. “We have worked to bring together many partners to help establish our leadership in UAS research, development and manufacturing. That means good-paying jobs for our people and innovative, new technologies with applications in agriculture, border security and many other areas. I want to thank the leaders at ComDel and Altavian for coming together and having the vision needed to achieve this milestone. The UAS they are manufacturing is used in the energy and agriculture industries to survey and gather data, so it is only natural to manufacture it here given our leadership in UAS, ag and energy.”

“We are very excited to fill this role in the UAS ecosystem, helping to bring new business opportunities to our state and securing the state’s leadership in this industry. We are grateful to Altavian for partnering with us to make North Dakota-manufactured UAS a reality,” ComDel CEO Jim Albrecht said.

“Altavian is in North Dakota to build a professional and safe commercial drone business, and we are committed to growing the jobs and economic benefits this emerging industry has to offer,” Altavian CEO John Perry said.

Today’s event follows Hoeven’s efforts, both as governor and now as senator, to establish and maintain North Dakota’s leadership in UAS technologies. He worked to establish and secure tenants and the Enhanced Use Lease (EUL) for Grand Sky, a cutting-edge, first-of-its-kind UAS technology and business park adjacent the Grand Forks Air Force Base. The senator also led the effort to establish six national test sites to focus on UAS airspace integration and worked closely with the UAS community in North Dakota to bring one of the sites to the state. The FAA selected North Dakota as a test site on December 30, 2013.

Earlier this month, Hoeven also announced that the FAA selected the ASSURE team, led by the University of North Dakota and Mississippi State University, as the Center of Excellence (COE) for researching the safe integration of UAS into the National Airspace. The COE will explore new technological developments regarding unmanned aircraft and their uses, including detect-and-avoid technology, low-altitude operations safety, privacy safeguards and other areas. 

Hoeven continues to support the work of the state’s UAS industry, the test site and the COE through legislation he introduced with Senator Cory Booker (D-N.J.), the Commercial UAS Modernization Act, which sets interim operating guidelines for small commercial UAS and creates a framework to promote American innovation in the rapidly growing field. The Booker-Hoeven legislation will set interim safety rules, help speed up the process for commercial users seeking to fly small unmanned aircraft and preserve the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) rulemaking authority while providing the agency with the flexibility to make changes in the final rule as necessary.