FAA Selects Grand Forks as UAS Test Site - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

FAA Selects Grand Forks as UAS Test Site

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The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has selected Grand Forks, North Dakota,as one of six sites to test unmanned aerial systems for integration into the national airspace.

The announcement comes after years of work by North Dakota's leaders to position Grand Forks as the premier northern UAS hub.

"This is very good news for the Grand Forks region and really the whole state as well as Minnesota," explains Senator John Hoeven. "We're building one of the premier UAS centers right here in the Grand Forks region. This designation as one of the pilot test sites for the nation is a big deal."

The FAA considers factors including geographical and climatic diversity, as well as the location of ground infrastructure, in selecting the test sites.

The state of North Dakota has invested more than $14 million dollars to establish a national UAS test site and to advance UAS research and development. In May, Governor Jack Dalrymple established the Northern Plains Unmanned Aircraft Systems Authority and appointed Lt. Gov. Drew Wrigley to lead the state's efforts to land a test site and to pursue other UAS opportunities.

Following Dalrymple's recommendation, the 63rd Legislative Assembly also supported the state's pursuit of a national UAS test site by appropriating $5 million, with $4 million in operations funding contingent on North Dakota being selected one of six test sites.

"The FAA's decision to locate one of only six national UAS test sites in North Dakota is good news for our state and for the entire nation," Dalrymple said.  "We have worked very hard to make sure North Dakota is well positioned for this designation and to make sure that the FAA recognizes the many strengths that we offer in helping to safely integrate unmanned aircraft into the national airspace. With this test site designation, we have a great opportunity to become a national hub for UAS research and development, to expand our national leadership in aerospace sciences and to further diversify our state economy."

The North Dakota leaders, along with the Grand Forks Base Realignment Impact Committee (BRIC), North Dakota Airspace Integration Team (AIT) and Grand Forks leaders have held meetings with the FAA regarding the site selection process to make the case for Grand Forks.

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