Hoeven: Grand Forks the Place for Pilot Training with UND’s Premier Aviation School, General Atomics’ New Hangar & Premier Private Sector Pilot Training Program
Senator Helps Open GA’s New Hangar at Grand Sky
GRAND FORKS, N.D. – Senator John Hoeven, a member of the Senate Defense Appropriations Committee, today joined General Atomics leaders to open their new hangar at Grand Sky, and highlighted how Grand Forks is leading the way in pilot training for the nation, with General Atomics’ private sector unmanned aerial systems (UAS) training program and the University of North Dakota’s (UND’s) world-class aviation school.
“This new hangar is part of General Atomics’ growing footprint in North Dakota. It’s only fitting that General Atomics, the premier private sector trainer of unmanned aircraft pilots, is dedicating this new facility here in Grand Forks, home of the premier school of aviation in the world. We welcome this new investment and the ongoing partnerships that are helping North Dakota lead the way in unmanned aircraft operations,” said Hoeven.
Now, the senator is working to bring additional pilot training to the state. As a member of the Senate Defense Appropriations Committee, Hoeven secured $35 million for a National Guard MQ-1C Gray Eagle Training Facility in the Senate’s Fiscal Year 2024 Defense Appropriations bill, which was recently approved by the full Senate Appropriations Committee. The funding will be used to begin standing up a training facility for members of the Army National Guard to learn to fly the MQ-1C Gray Eagle, which is a close variant of the MQ-9 Reaper. This funding is the beginning of a multi-year effort to give the Army Guard its own training facility and Hoeven is making the case for the Army Guard training on the MQ-1C to happen in Grand Forks.
Hoeven has worked since his time as governor to establish North Dakota as a hub of UAS research, development and training, including developing and growing Grand Sky. The senator worked to recruit General Atomics, along with Northrop Grumman, as anchor tenants at Grand Sky and secured an Enhanced Use Lease with the Air Force to establish Grand Sky. Since then, Hoeven has grown North Dakota’s partnership with General Atomics, including working to:
- Locate and grow General Atomics’ Flight Test and Training Center to the Grand Sky Technology Park.
- Get FAA approval for beyond-visual-line-of-sight (BVLOS) flights conducted by the Northern Plains UAS Test Site and General Atomics, utilizing enhanced radar software. The software upgrades improve the safety and security of BVLOS flights, but required a new waiver from the FAA before being deployed.
- Secure $6 million award from the Space Development Agency (SDA) to General Atomics to demonstrate satellite to MQ-9 Reaper laser communications, which will enable transmissions between the satellites and unmanned aircraft to use less power and be more secure against detection and interference.
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