Hoeven Makes Case for Grand Sky as Ideal Location for FlightSafety International

Senator Leads Meeting in Bid to Bring Aviation Training Company to Grand Forks

GRAND FORKS, N.D. – Senator John Hoeven today led a meeting in Grand Forks with leaders from Grand Sky and FlightSafety International in a bid to recruit the company to the unmanned aerial systems (UAS) business and technology park. Today’s event is part of the senator’s ongoing efforts to showcase Grand Sky as an ideal site to locate UAS-related and other aviation companies and follows a meeting Hoeven held last month with FlightSafety’s Vice President General Ray Johns (retired), where the senator encouraged the move and invited the company to visit the state.

“It is a very exciting time in North Dakota for our UAS community and the aeronautics industry,” Hoeven said. “Our UAS Center of Excellence, the Grand Sky technology park and UAS operations at Grand Forks Air Force Base, make Grand Forks an ideal choice for any company looking to take advantage of the many emerging opportunities offered by UAS technology. We have made the case to FlightSafety, and we will keep pursuing partners to continue our state’s leadership in this growing industry.”

FlightSafety International trains pilots for all aircraft types – fixed-wing, rotorcraft and tilt-rotor – and delivers more than a million hours of professional instruction each year. The company operates 40 Learning Centers and training locations in the United States and nine countries around the world.

Hoeven has worked, both as governor and now as senator, to establish and maintain North Dakota’s leadership in UAS technologies. He worked to establish Grand Sky, helping secure the Enhanced Use Lease (EUL) with the Air Force for the park and bringing top leaders of Northrop Grumman, a global aerospace and defense technology giant, to Grand Forks in 2012. Last month, Hoeven announced that Northrop Grumman signed a lease agreement making the company the anchor tenant of Grand Sky.

The senator also led the effort to establish six national test sites to focus on UAS airspace integration and worked closely with the UAS community in North Dakota to bring one of the sites to the state. The FAA selected North Dakota as a test site on December 30, 2013.

Earlier this month, Hoeven also announced that the FAA selected the ASSURE team, led by the University of North Dakota and Mississippi State University, as the Center of Excellence (COE) for researching the safe integration of UAS into the National Airspace. The COE will explore new technological developments regarding unmanned aircraft and their uses, including detect-and-avoid technology, low-altitude operations safety, privacy safeguards and other areas. 

Hoeven continues to support the work of the state’s UAS industry, the test site and the COE through legislation he introduced with Senator Cory Booker (D-N.J.), the Commercial UAS Modernization Act, which sets interim operating guidelines for small commercial UAS and creates a framework to promote American innovation in the rapidly growing field. The Booker-Hoeven legislation will set interim safety rules, help speed up the process for commercial users seeking to fly small unmanned aircraft and preserve the FAA rulemaking authority while providing the agency with the flexibility to make changes in the final rule as necessary.