Hoeven Statement on Senate Passage of FAA Reauthorization Bill

Senator Secures Wins for North Dakota including Extending UAS Test Sites and Providing R&D Grants, Authorization of Vets2Wings through FY28

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven today issued the following statement after helping secure Senate passage of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reauthorization legislation. As a member of the Senate Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development (THUD) Appropriations Committee, Hoeven worked to advance the following priorities for North Dakota in the bill:

  • A Hoeven-authored provision reauthorizing the Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) test sites, including the Northern Plains UAS Test Site, through fiscal year (FY) 2028.
    • The bill also authorizes $6 million per year for grants to companies that conduct research with UAS test sites, consistent with a measure that Hoeven has secured in annual THUD appropriations bills in recent years.
  • The American Aviator Act, Hoeven’s legislation to formally authorize the FAA’s veteran pilot training program through FY2028, which was spearheaded by the Vets2Wings program at the University of North Dakota (UND).
    • This builds on Hoeven’s efforts to fund the pilot program at UND and will provide long-term certainty to the program.
  • Strong support for the Airport Improvement Program (AIP).
    • Hoeven has worked to leverage AIP funding to advance a wide range of airport facility enhancements across the state, including completed projects in Williston and Minot and ongoing efforts in Fargo and Dickinson.
  • Measures to improve hiring and staffing of air traffic controllers (ATC).

“Passing this legislation provides support to the wide array of aviation activities occurring across North Dakota,” said Hoeven. “This includes the pilot and ATC training initiatives we’re advancing at UND and our robust UAS research and development ecosystem, centered on the Northern Plains UAS Test Site, which is reauthorized through FY28 under this bill. At the same time, this legislation authorizes critical funding for the many airport improvement projects that we’re working to move forward across the state, such as the Terminal Development Project in Dickinson and the Hector International Airport Terminal Expansion Project in Fargo.”

Addressing the ATC Shortage

The FAA reauthorization bill includes legislation Hoeven cosponsored that requires the FAA to use a more accurate staffing model developed by the National Air Traffic Controllers Association and the FAA’s Air Traffic Organization. The bill also sets an updated minimum hiring target for new air traffic controllers.

These provisions align with Hoeven’s work to establish UND as the first university in the nation where ATC program graduates can move directly into the workforce rather than attending the FAA’s ATC Academy in Oklahoma. To this end, Hoeven continues working with UND to apply for the FAA’s Enhanced Air Traffic-Collegiate Training Initiative (AT-CTI) program, which will:

  • Make graduates immediately eligible for hire and to begin localized training at an air traffic facility.
  • Provide a more streamlined process for qualified air traffic controllers to help meet growing demand at airports across the nation.
  • Still require graduates to pass the Air Traffic Skills Assessment (ATSA) exam and meet medical and security requirements.