Conrad - Hoeven Amendment to FAA Bill Calls for UAS Training Centers

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Senators Kent Conrad and John Hoeven introduced an amendment to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization bill to help increase unmanned aerial systems (UAS) operations and training in North Dakota.

The amendment authorizes the FAA to move forward in coordination with the military to develop concurrent or layered airspace for UAS flight in the National Airspace System. It amends earlier language as drafted by Senator Conrad and former senator Byron Dorgan.

The Conrad-Hoeven amendment also calls on the FAA to develop national certification and flight standards for UAS, including the Department of Defense’s responsibility to assure safety for civilian aircraft, while still achieving the training needed for military aircraft to preserve America’s national security. It also establishes four UAS test sites and training centers across the nation.

Senators Conrad and Hoeven have long championed North Dakota’s unique value to UAS and are pressing for one of the centers to be based in North Dakota in an effort to increase the potential for the state to become a national hub for UAS operations.

Senator Hoeven spoke on the Senate floor this morning in support of the amendment: “We’re already flying UAVs in airspace all over the world,” he said. “Now we need to open the skies for them at home to make our nation more secure, our communities safer, and our economy more dynamic, creating jobs and opportunities in our country. If we don’t, you can be sure other nations will. The goal is to make UAVs, with all of their remarkable capabilities, a fully functioning, fully empowered component of America’s aviation system.”

"This is an issue that is vital to the national security of the United States and to the future of North Dakota," Senator Conrad said. "The Air Force is investing heavily in unmanned vehicles and relevant technologies. In turn, we want them investing heavily in North Dakota as well."

Grand Forks Air Force Base will be the home to twoclasses of unmanned aircraft, the Predator and the Global Hawk, and is slated to become a major center for unmanned aircraft training and operations missions next year.

The Conrad-Hoeven amendment is pending before the Senate.