Unmanned aerial systems to be tested in state

The state of North Dakota was selected Dec. 30 as one of six test sites for the Federal Aviation Administration unmanned aerial system project.


Posted on 2/8/14

By Lee Coleman

“There was a tremendous amount of work that went into the application,” said Carol Goodman, Director of Primary Sector Development at the Cavalier County Job Development Authority. “It was a statewide effort from a lot of different agencies and people involved.

“The University of North Dakota has been a leader in aerospace and UAS development for a long time.”

Each one of the test sites, Goodman said, were selected for a particular reason.

“Each one is looking at researching and developing a different individual part of what it is going to take to integrate UAS onto the national stage.

For the North Dakota selection, it came down to three pivotal points.

First, the experience and history UND has with aerospace. Secondly, the very unencumbered skies is a good place to do testing because you won’t have that airspace congestion that you would with other parts of the country.

Lastly, North Dakota has such a variance in temperatures and UAS will have to be able to fly under all conditions like conventional aircraft have to do.

The time line for the research for the program is very succinct.

With the charge from Congress, guidelines have been set by the FAA for completion by 2017 when a report will be formulated for Congress.

“All the activities and research that will be done has to be completed between now and when they need all the data so they can prepare their report for Congress in 2017,” Goodman explained. “It is a very short window of time where all this has to take place.

“Hopefully, it will pave the way for UAS of all kinds.”

Goodman acknowledged the window is much smaller than it actually seems.

“When you say you are going to do something for the government, you do it,” she said. “It will be a very busy time for all those that are hands-on involved in carrying out the activities of our designation.

“And, of course, there will be increased opportunities to connect with the industry side of UAS. They will be looking at North Dakota for its leadership in the development of this technology.”