Hoeven Statement on FAA's Release of New Guidance on UAS Use in the National Airspace

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven today issued the following statement in response to the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) new guidance on Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) in the United States and President Obama’s memorandum providing policies regarding privacy protections and federal oversight of UAS use:

“Today’s draft guidance does address some concerns of the UAS community and signals that the FAA is starting to respond to industry's need for rules that allow them to operate,” Hoeven said. “However, the FAA needs to embrace the test sites we created in Congress as a way of doing the real work to integrate UAS into the national airspace. Today’s proposed regulations are a start, but they have a ways to go before we will be able to apply this new and innovative technology in the realm of commerce. The administration still needs to outline an actual strategy for integration that does the research required for the UAS industry to reach its full potential. The technology is here, the demand is here, and the ability for the UAS to utilize the NAS must keep pace.”

As both a governor and senator, Hoeven has worked to help build Grand Forks as a prime location for expanding our nation’s UAS capabilities and to establish the region as a hub of UAS technology. Hoeven continues his work to support the missions at GFAFB and help to further the region as a leader in UAS technology.

Last week, the senator announced that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approved a request by the Northern Plains Unmanned Aerial Systems Test Site, one of six national test sites Hoeven worked to create in the FAA’s 2012 reauthorization bill, to conduct UAS flights through an expanded area of North Dakota’s airspace. Hoeven wrote and spoke with FAA Administrator Michael Huerta multiple times last year pressing him to advance the process, and the FAA approved the test site’s application for a broad area certification of authorization (COA) for UAS flights.

As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, the senator also worked to secure the following provisions in the fiscal year (FY) 2015 appropriations bill:

  • Full Funding for the Global Hawk: Provides funding for the RQ-4 Global Hawk in 2015.  The Air Force previously considered divesting the Global Hawk fleet, but Hoeven worked to convince them to keep the Global Hawk and divest the older U-2 fleet.
  • Support for UAS Research: Includes an additional $7.8 million Hoeven requested for UAS research at the Department of Defense and an additional $6 million for UAS research at the FAA. This funding will support integration research projects that can be performed at the UAS test sites and the establishment of a Center of Excellence for UAS research.