Hoeven: FAA Issues Waiver Under Integration Pilot Program to Allow UAS Operations Over People in North Dakota

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven today issued the following statement after the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued a four-year waiver to the North Dakota Department of Transportation to allow the operation of unmanned aerial systems (UAS) over people with the use of an approved parachute system. The waiver comes as part of the FAA’s Integration Pilot Program (IPP). Hoeven worked with Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao to launch the IPP and sought to secure the state’s role in the program.

“This waiver is another important step in advancing North Dakota’s leadership in UAS research and development,” Hoeven said. “We worked to establish the IPP in order to create the rules of the road for the safe operation of unmanned aircraft in our national airspace. That’s what is needed to realize the potential of this technology in a wide range of sectors, like agriculture, energy and commerce, and continue growing this industry in our state.”

The waiver comes as the latest development in the continued expansion of UAS operations in the state. Earlier this year, Hoeven joined Grand Sky and the Harris Corporation in announcing a new UAS Super Corridor to allow beyond-visual-line-of-sight flights for unmanned aircraft throughout more than 100 miles of the Red River Valley. 

The corridor comes as the result of key technologies and authorizations that Hoeven has worked to secure in recent years, including the DASR-11 radar system in Grand Forks. Moving forward, Hoeven is seeking to expand the corridor into the Fargo region through an enhanced Lightweight Search and Track Acquisition Radar (LSTAR) system at Hector Field, which he worked to fund and will be completed in September 2019.