Hoeven, Heitkamp To Host FAA Administrator Huerta in Grand Forks to Showcase UAS Industry, Williston to See Aviation Infrastructure Needs

WASHINGTON – Senators John Hoeven and Heidi Heitkamp today announced that they will host U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) head Michael Huerta in Grand Forks and Williston on April 21 to review the state’s growing unmanned aerial systems (UAS) industry and see firsthand the acute airport infrastructure needs in the energy development impacted communities of western North Dakota.

On April 21, Hoeven and Heitkamp will lead Administrator Huerta on a tour of the region’s progress to build the UAS industry and to integrate the aircraft into the National Air Space. In December, Grand Forks was named one of six pilot sites in the U.S. for safely integrating UAS into the nation’s airspace. The test sites come as a result of an amendment, sponsored by Hoeven, to the FAA Reauthorization bill that directed the agency to establish the test sites.

The senators will then host Huerta in Williston so he can better understand the aviation infrastructure needs in the western part of the state. Rapid industrial and residential growth from the oil boom in the Bakken have dramatically increased air traffic in western North Dakota airports, where air travel demands have exceeded infrastructure capacity. Hoeven and Heitkamp have previously met with Huerta to underscore the need for further investment in airports servicing the area.

“We look forward to hosting Administrator Huerta in Grand Forks to see firsthand the outstanding work our state is doing to build the UAS industry and to integrate these aircraft into our airspace. We want to showcase how we’re working to fully take advantage of these burgeoning technologies,” the senators said. “It is also crucial for Administrator Huerta to understand the great infrastructure needs we have in western North Dakota. Allowing him to see the conditions on the ground in Williston will undoubtedly help him as he makes decisions affecting the area.”