Gov. Doug Burgum, R-N.D., has announced a $30 million proposal to build out infrastructure that would support beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) operations for unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) across North Dakota.
Burgum made the announcement during recent remarks at the annual State of Technology Conference in Fargo, hosted by U.S. Sen. John Hoeven and the Fargo Moorhead West Fargo Chamber of Commerce. The proposal is part of the governor’s executive budget recommendation for the 2019-21 biennium, submitted to the state legislature today. Funding would come from earnings from the state’s legacy fund.
According to the governor, the investment would establish a statewide BVLOS network to enable UAS efficiencies for state agencies, local communities and the commercial sector (e.g., farming). It would supply the infrastructure required for the command and control of drones and the required surveillance equipment to safely integrate manned and unmanned aircraft into national airspace, Burgum says.
Subject-matter experts within the state, including at the Northern Plains UAS Test Site in Grand Forks, would work with federal agencies to ensure regulatory compliance. The budget also proposes $3 million to upgrade infrastructure at the Grand Sky UAS and aviation business park and $3 million to support operations at the Northern Plains UAS Test Site.
“These investments will ensure that North Dakota remains America’s proving ground for UAS while also enabling commercial operations, which is good for our economy and taxpayers,” Burgum says.