Hoeven: Grand Forks Submitting UAS Test Site Application This Week

Senator Working to Maintain North Dakota Leadership in UAS Technology

GRAND FORKS, N.D. – Senator John Hoeven today met with representatives from the North Dakota Airspace Integration Team (AIT) and the Grand Forks Base Realignment Impact Committee (BRIC) to advance the base’s application to become one of six pilot test sites for integrating Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) into the National Airspace. As both governor and U.S. Senator, Hoeven has worked to make Grand Forks the premier northern hub for the UAS industry.

The AIT and the senator reviewed progress made towards completing the air base’s application to the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) UAS test site program. The test site program is a joint effort between the FAA and the military to integrate UAS into the National Airspace. Senator Hoeven worked to include the test site program as an amendment in the 2012 FAA reauthorization bill signed into law last February. AIT has completed the application and plans to submit it to the FAA on Friday. The FAA will conduct a site survey this summer and issue a decision in December.

The Grand Forks BRIC and Senator Hoeven also reviewed the status of the Enhanced Use Lease (EUL) the U.S. Air Force (USAF) is developing for the Grand Forks Air Force Base. The EUL is the result of a partnership that Senator Hoeven helped to forge between the Air Force and Grand Forks County. The senator also brought in Northrop Grumman, which is in the process of becoming the base’s anchor tenant in what Hoeven and planners envision as a new high-tech park on the base. The company will work with the Grand Forks BRIC, University of North Dakota (UND), UND Aerospace Foundation (UNDAF), Northland Aerospace Foundation and other entities as they come on board.

The agreement will allow private-sector investment in programs and facilities that support the missions performed at the base, including the base’s UAS activities. Northrop Grumman expects to make further announcements regarding its activities in the area at the Unmanned Aerial Systems Summit in Grand Forks on May 30, which Senator Hoeven is cosponsoring.

“The uncongested airspace, the presence of a U.S. Air Force Base, the cluster of high-tech businesses in the area and the Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences at UND all make a powerful case for why North Dakota remains a leader in UAS technology development and why the base should be chosen as one of the test sites,” Hoeven said. “I thank the integration team and BRIC for an outstanding application, and I will continue to work to ensure that the unique assets the UAS community has built in Grand Forks are recognized and put to good use for our state and our nation.”