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FAA Certifies North Dakota's UAS Test Site as Nationals First to Be Ready for Operations
Post Date: Apr 22 2014

By ND Governor
Dalrymple/Huerta announce ND UAS first to be certified operations ready

Gov. Jack Dalrymple today was joined by FAA Administrator Michael Huerta and the state’s congressional delegation in announcing that North Dakota’s test site for unmanned aerial systems (UAS) is the nation’s first to be certified ready for operations.

Gov. Jack Dalrymple today joined FAA Administrator Michael Huerta and the state’s congressional delegation in announcing that North Dakota’s test site for unmanned aerial systems (UAS) is the nation’s first to be certified ready for operations.

With the FAA’s nod of approval, North Dakota’s Northern Plains UAS Test Site will be the first of six national UAS testing grounds to begin the work of integrating unmanned aerial systems into the national airspace, Dalrymple said.

“We have worked long and hard to earn one of only six national test site designations and to become a national leader in UAS test site operations,” Dalrymple said. “With test site designation in hand and the first UAS program certification, we have a great opportunity to become a national hub for UAS research and development, to expand North Dakota’s role in aerospace sciences and to further diversify our economy.”
           
Huerta said North Dakota has developed the only UAS test site operations plan that currently meets the FAA’s rigid compliance standards. Dalrymple said with FAA certification complete, the Northern Plains Unmanned Aerial Systems Authority will begin the nation’s first UAS flight tests in May.
           
In December, the FAA selected North Dakota to operate one of six national UAS test sites, citing the state’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.
           
Dalrymple led the state’s efforts to establish a national UAS test site in North Dakota. At today’s news conference, he thanked the state’s congressional delegation, members of the Northern Plains Unmanned Aerial Systems Authority, officials at the North Dakota Department of Commerce and the state’s institutions of higher learning for their help in landing a UAS test site and the state’s UAS leadership position.
           
Dalrymple issued an executive order, establishing the Northern Plains Unmanned Aerial Systems Authority in May, 2013.  The six-member authority, chaired by Lt. Gov. Drew Wrigley, has worked ever since 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.
           
The state has invested more than $14 million to establish a national UAS test site and to advance UAS research and development. Following Dalrymple’s recommendation, the 63rd Legislative Assembly supported the state’s pursuit of a national test site by appropriating $5 million, with $4 million in operation funding contingent on FAA selection.
 
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