Grand Forks Tests Unmanned Aircraft - KFYRTV.COM - Bismarck, ND - News, Weather, Sports

Grand Forks Tests Unmanned Aircraft

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North Dakota has vast riches underground, with oil and natural gas. The soil is rich and provides food for millions of people. And now, the state will be a leader in the skies as well.

The FAA has selected Grand Forks as one of six sites across the county to start testing unmanned aerial system. It's been a long process, but North Dakota is finally going to be testing unmanned aerial systems. 

"We've been trying to get the FAA to do it administratively when they never would do. So, I actually wrote an amendment in 2011 which we put in the FAA reauthorization bill in 2012 and said you must set up sites around the country where we can develop concurrent air use for manned and unmanned aircraft," says Sen. John Hoeven.

One of those six sites is expected to be up and running in 180 days and the delegation says it could be the site in Grand Forks. 

"North Dakota is probably in the best position because we've done the most amount of work on the front end. When we started this there weren't a lot of states engaged. By the time they sent out the request for proposals basically there were dozens of states that jumped in," says Sen. Heidi Heitkamp.

Representative Kevin Cramer says there are a variety of factors that made Grand Forks an ideal location for testing. Including the states climate and the cooperation at every level on the project. 

"Private, public, state, federal, local, county, multiple states. I don't think that there's any place in the country where all of the leaders at every level, along with the private sector, worked so closely together in one unified way. I think that really was a major factor in the decision," says Cramer.

They say the site will also bring more diversity to the states already booming economy. 

Other states selected include Texas, Alaska, Virginia, Nevada and New York.

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