Sponsored By
An organization or individual has paid for the creation of this work but did not approve or review it.

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

UND, U.S. Air Force partner on new UAS curriculum

UND announced Thursday a new program to train pilots of the Predator unmanned aircraft using a full-size simulator. It's another step that puts the university and the state "at the forefront and cutting edge" of research and development in unmann...

UND logo

UND announced Thursday a new program to train pilots of the Predator unmanned aircraft using a full-size simulator.

It's another step that puts the university and the state "at the forefront and cutting edge" of research and development in unmanned aircraft systems, "the fastest-growing component in aviation," said Lt. Gov. Drew Wrigley at the announcement ceremony on campus.

Wrigley is chairman of the Northern Plains Unmanned Aircraft Systems Authority, which is working, among other things, to have the state named one of the federal government's six test sites for unmanned aircraft.

UND's new training program, still in its testing phase, has been underway for a couple weeks with six students who will finish a short course by Thanksgiving. Next semester, 32 students are expected.

University officials have worked for years to start a training center equipped with a full-size simulator that look and feel like the inside of a Predator control module. They got that in 2011 using $2.7 million in state funds to buy the simulator, the university said.

ADVERTISEMENT

Now they've got a curriculum to go with it.

Training methods

Money for the program comes from a three-year $5.5 million grant that UND received in 2011 from the Air Force Research Laboratory. The military's goal is to find the most efficient method to train pilots for unmanned aircraft, the university.

Part of the funding goes toward paying students $2,000 each to participate, as a way to develop the curriculum.

According to Al Palmer, director of UND's Center for UAS Research, Education and Training, the UND program builds on Air Force training curriculums, adding new wrinkles not available yet anywhere in such a format.

However, he said, in line with UND's civilian mission, there is no "weaponization" button on the new Predator simulator.

Palmer said he expects the grant to get re-upped next year with little problem.

Although the FAA has not yet sketched out how unmanned aircraft will be used in the private sector, such as in mapping farm fields, monitoring natural resources and pipelines and power lines, he said UND's training program will ensure it's ready to provide pilots and other professionals as the industry gears up.

ADVERTISEMENT

Call Lee at (701) 780-1237; (800) 477-6572, ext. 1237; or send email to slee@gfherald.com .

Related Topics: AVIATION
What To Read Next
Josh Sipes was watching an in-flight movie when he became aware the flight crew were asking for help assisting a woman who was experiencing a medical problem.
Nonprofit hospitals are required to provide free or discounted care, also known as charity care; yet eligibility and application requirements vary across hospitals. Could you qualify? We found out.
Crisis pregnancy centers received almost $3 million in taxpayer funds in 2022. Soon, sharing only medically accurate information could be a prerequisite for funding.
The Grand Forks Blue Zones Project, which hopes to make Grand Forks not just a healthier city but a closer community, is hosting an event on Saturday, Jan. 21, at the Empire Arts Center from 3-5 p.m.