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Northern Plains UAS Test Site Announces Beyond Visual Line of Sight Capabilities for UAS in North Dakota
Post Date: Jan 04 2017

By ND Commerce
The Northern Plains Unmanned Aircraft Systems Test Site announces the approval to execute a phased approach to operate large unmanned aircraft beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) in North Dakota using ground-based sense and avoid technologies. This authorization, granted under the FAA’s authorization process, outlines the path for unique testing and flight operations that are not widely available in the national airspace.

 “North Dakota will be the first state to implement this phased approach to unmanned aircraft beyond visual line of sight, reinforcing its well-deserved reputation as a national leader in aviation and UAS research,” says Governor Doug Burgum. “The state’s significant financial commitment to UAS research and development continues to pay dividends as we strive to diversify the economy through innovation and emerging technologies."

The authorization allows for a large-platform UAS to take off from the Grand Sky UAS Business Park at the Grand Forks Air Force Base, with defined conditions to remove the need for a chase manned aircraft.

“Defining the requirements to remove the need for a chase aircraft to conduct long range flights at higher altitudes is another step closer to fully integrating UAS into the National Airspace System,” said Nick Flom, executive director of the Northern Plains UAS Test Site. “This approval signifies how the Test Site program, in collaboration with the FAA, is supporting industry development and enables North Dakota to continue to be the premier location for industry to conduct research related to UAS.”

The approval was based on a concept of operations that was developed in collaboration with the Northern Plains UAS Test Site, industry partners, local and regional air traffic community, and the FAA.

“Low traffic and population density, along with state of the art radar makes our location ideal for BVLOS testing,” said Flom.

The safety of the location and of the operation were assessed as part of the FAA’s approval process. The FAA recognizes the industry’s needs to research methods for integrating UAS into the NAS safely and efficiently, and this approval demonstrates the FAA’s commitment to the industry.

The Northern Plains UAS Test Site works to collaborate with the FAA and industry partners to develop equipment, systems, rules and procedures to safely integrate unmanned aircraft into the National Airspace System without negatively impacting existing aviation. 

North Dakota has invested over $37 million to advance UAS research and development and is collaborating with organizations statewide to build this emerging industry. 

For more information about the Northern Plains UAS Test Site or to inquire about gaining access to our airspace, go to NPUASTS.COM or call us at 701-777-6100.  


Grand Sky is a 217-acre business and aviation park focused on supporting the unmanned aerial systems (UAS) industry in North Dakota and the U.S. It is a development executed in partnership with Grand Forks County, N.D., and is located on Grand Forks Air Force Base. Grand Sky offers 1.2 million square feet of hangar, office, shop, laboratory and data center space available on a build-to-suit basis with financing available. For more information, visit grandskynd.com.
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