Hoeven: Committee Approves FY15 Transportation Appropriation Bill with Important UAS Test Site Provisions

Legislation Supports Grand Forks Region’s Work to Integrate UAS into National Airspace

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven, who serves on the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee, today announced that the committee has passed funding legislation that includes important provisions to support unmanned aerial systems (UAS) integration at Grand Forks and test sites across the nation. In addition to funding, the bill includes Hoeven-introduced language to spur activities at the Grand Forks test site.

“Integrating UAS into our national airspace is a tremendous opportunity for our nation, and Grand Forks is leading the way,” said Hoeven. “This legislation includes important funding and initiatives that will help to move forward work at test sites so we can safely integrate UAS into our national airspace and fly both manned and unmanned aircraft safely. We included provisions to help ensure we’re able to fly multiple UAS and manned aircraft at the same time, as well as a provision to accelerate FAA approvals for UAS to be used commercially.”

The Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) appropriations bill makes important investments at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in support of UAS integration efforts. The FY15 funding bill highlights include:

• Funding for UAS Research – The bill provides FAA with an additional $4 million, a total of more than $12 million, for UAS research that will support activities at the test sites and accelerate the UAS airspace integration process.

• FAA/Air Force Collaboration – Hoeven-language included in the bill encourages FAA to study how the Air Force safely flies multiple UAS aircraft at the same time, including safely landing and taking off in short periods of time. This should lead to streamlined operations at Grand Forks Air Force Base and provide valuable Air Force expertise to ensure that multiple UAS and manned aircraft can fly safely together.

• Review UAS Platforms for Business and Industry – The FAA has authority to accelerate approval of UAS aircraft it deems safe. Hoeven language in the legislation encourages the FAA to use the test sites to accelerate the integration of small UAS into the national airspace for uses like evaluating crops in the field, inspecting power lines and Amazon's proposed package delivery service.