Hoeven: Passage of FAA Reauthorization Bill Advances North Dakota Aviation Interests

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven today said Senate passage of a long-term Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reauthorization bill supports North Dakota’s aviation interests, including growing unmanned aerial systems (UAS) operations and ensuring reliable air service in North Dakota.  

The legislation includes an amendment, introduced by Hoeven and Senator Kent Conrad, that directs the FAA to work with the military to integrate UAS into the National Airspace (NAS). Hoeven’s amendment instructs the FAA Administrator to develop six pilot test sites as part of a program for safely flying manned and unmanned aircraft concurrently in the NAS. The legislation requires the FAA to consider geographical and climatic diversity, as well as the location of ground infrastructure, in naming the test sites. This language bolsters North Dakota’s chances of being named a northern test site. 

“We’ve been working aggressively to advance our nation’s UAS operations and ensure that North Dakota remains a leader in these cutting-edge technologies,” said Hoeven. “These pilot projects represent a huge opportunity for Grand Forks Air Force Base, the university and high-tech businesses in the surrounding region. Our state’s UAS community has done a tremendous job to ensure we are well positioned to be named a test site, the next step in establishing the Grand Forks region as the premier northern UAS hub.” 

Hoeven worked, as both governor and now U.S. Senator, with the state’s UAS community to establish and maintain North Dakota’s leadership in UAS technologies and to grow operations in the Grand Forks region. 

The FAA bill passed today reinforces similar requirements passed as part of the Department of Defense authorization bill in December. It ensures that both the Defense Department and FAA move forward with the UAS integration projects.  

The legislation, which authorizes FAA operations through FY 2014, also ensures that Essential Air Service will continue for North Dakota’s growing rural airports.  The bill is a bipartisan, bicameral agreement and has already been passed by the U.S. House of Representatives. The bill now goes to the President to be signed into law.