Conrad, Hoeven support effort to increase UAS operations in N.D.Sens. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., and John Hoeven, R-N.D., have introduced an amendment to help increase unmanned aerial systems operations and training in North Dakota, they announced Friday.
By: Herald Staff Report, Grand Forks Herald
Sens. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., and John Hoeven, R-N.D., have introduced an amendment to help increase unmanned aerial systems operations and training in North Dakota, they announced today.
The amendment to the Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization bill would authorize the agency to coordinate plans with the military to develop concurrent or layered airspace for UAS flights in the National Airspace System. It updates earlier language of the amendment as drafted by Conrad and former Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D.
If approved, the amendment also would call on the FAA to develop national certification and flight standards for UAS and establish four UAS test sites and training centers across the country.
Conrad and Hoeven said one of the centers should be based in North Dakota, which could help in the effort to make the state a national hub for UAS operations.
Hoeven spoke on the Senate floor this morning in support of the amendment, telling senators the goal is to make UAS “a fully functioning, fully empowered component of America’s aviation system.”
“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.”
Conrad said the issue is “vital” both to the future of the state and the national security of the U.S.
“The Air Force is investing heavily in unmanned vehicles and relevant technologies,” he said. “In turn, we want them investing heavily in North Dakota as well.”
The amendment is now pending before the U.S. Senate.
Grand Forks Air Force Base ended its 50-year tanker mission in December, and now is gearing up for its unmanned aircraft mission that’s expected to bring an additional 460 active duty personnel to the base by Oct. 1. Two classes of aircraft, the Predator and the Global Hawk, will be stationed at the base.
UND recently opened a UAS training site at the Grand Forks International Airport and also is moving ahead with plans to develop a training site at the Grand Forks Air Force Base.