The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has approved a certificate of authorization (COA) for the Northern Plains UAS Test Site in North Dakota to oversee unmanned aircraft operations that go beyond the line of sight of the operator, according to U.S. Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D.
The senator, who worked to secure the FAA approval and led a roundtable last week, says the COA makes the North Dakota test site the first in the U.S. to have such beyond-line-of-sight operability. This means the test site will be able to support the development, testing and evaluation of a wide range of new applications for unmanned aircraft system (UAS) technology.
“The FAA’s approval of this COA is a major step forward for North Dakota and the UAS industry, in general, because UAS will have to be able to fly beyond the line of sight in order to operate concurrently with piloted aircraft in the National Air Space,” says Hoeven in a press release. “This authorization will help companies like General Atomics, Northrop Grumman and future tenants at the Grand Sky technology park test and evaluate complex UAS operations possible nowhere else in the nation. It also makes North Dakota an attractive place for government agencies like NASA, the Air Force and the Department of Homeland Security to integrate UAS into the national airspace system.”
According to Hoeven, North Dakota is ideally suited to support beyond-line-of-sight operations, with the combination of an FAA test site, the Grand Sky Technology Park and the Grand Forks Air Force Base, which is home to an upgraded DASR-11 digital radar system.