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Dalrymple, Officials Celebrate Continued Development of Grand Sky UAS Park
Post Date: Sep 10 2015

ND Governor's Office
Gov. Jack Dalrymple today joined local, state and military officials in celebrating several infrastructure projects critical to the development of the Grand Sky unmanned aerial systems (UAS) business and aviation park. Located on the Grand Forks Air Force Base, Grand Sky is the nation’s first commercial UAS business park.
 
“By moving forward on these projects, we are laying the groundwork to establish Grand Sky as the premier destination for America’s growing UAS industry,” Dalrymple said. “North Dakota is on the cutting edge of the UAS industry and we’re committed to developing our expertise and assets into a national hub for UAS research, development, testing, training and operations.”
 
The state has committed about $13 million for infrastructure projects essential to Grand Sky’s development. Projects in various stages of completion at the 217-acre UAS park include roadway and sewer improvements; upgrades to a flight tarmac; the installation of data services, electricity and other utilities; and the construction of security infrastructure. In all, the state has invested more than $34 million to secure and develop one of only six national UAS test sites, to develop Grand Sky, and to support UAS research and innovation in North Dakota.
 
In April, aerospace giant Northrup Grumman Corporation became Grand Sky’s anchor tenant. Grand Sky officials said the state’s support will help attract other Grand Sky tenants and advance North Dakota’s position as a national hub for the UAS industry. Grand Sky will offer 1.2 million square feet of space to the UAS industry, including manufacturers, flight testing and training centers and data analysis.
 
Among those who joined Dalrymple to celebrate Grand Sky’s development projects were U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. William Bender, Sen. Ray Holmberg, Grand Forks Air Force Base Commander Col. Rodney Lewis, Grand Forks County Commissioner Tom Falck, Grand Sky Development President Thomas Swoyer and North Dakota Commerce Commissioner Al Anderson.
 
Dalrymple has led the state’s efforts to establish the Northern Plains UAS Test Site and to develop a national UAS industry hub. Working toward those goals, some of the state’s notable achievements include:
  • May 2013 - Dalrymple established the Northern Plains Unmanned Aerial Systems Authority.  The six-member authority, chaired by Lt. Gov. Drew Wrigley, successfully worked to develop a national UAS test proposal, to earn a test site designation and to develop a test site operation that meets FAA certification.  The authority is charged with overseeing the operations of North Dakota’s UAS test site, including the development of public safety protocols,  privacy safeguards and UAS research and development opportunities. Former 119th North Dakota Air National Guard Commander Col. Robert Becklund serves as director of the Northern Plains UAS Test Site.
  • December 2013 - The Federal Aviation Administration selects North Dakota to operate one of only six national UAS test sites. The FAA cited North Dakota’s strong proposal, its national standing in aviation and aerospace sciences, university research and development capabilities as well as the state’s diverse climate and open airspace
  • April 2014 - North Dakota’s Northern Plains UAS Test Site became the nation’s first to be FAA certified as ready to begin the work of integrating unmanned aerial systems into the national airspace. 
  • February 2015 - The U.S. Air Force and Grand Forks County officials sign an enhanced use lease agreement, paving the way for the development of the Grand Sky UAS business and aviation park.
  • February 2015 - North Dakota lands its first UAS manufacturing venture when Wahpeton-based ComDel Innovation and Altavian begin manufacturing unmanned aerial systems and UAS components at ComDel’s plant in Wahpeton.
  • April 2015 - Northrop Grumman Corporation becomes Grand Sky’s anchor tenant.
  • August 2015 - The FAA approves expanded operations of the Northern Plains Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Test Site to include night- flight testing capabilities throughout the state of North Dakota. This authorization allows the industry greater access to airspace for collaborative research. The FAA approved the COA application citing maturity and the demonstrated safety and operational processes developed by the Northern Plains UAS Test Site.
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