Sens. John Hoeven, R-N.D., and Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., will host Michael Huerta, head of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), in Grand Forks, N.D., on April 21 to review the state's growing unmanned aerial systems (UAS) industry.
According a press release on Hoeven's website, the senators will lead Huerta on a tour of the region's progress to build the UAS industry and integrate the aircraft into the national airspace system. In late December 2013, the North Dakota Department of Commerce was named one of six national test site operators by the FAA.
‘We look forward to hosting Administrator Huerta in Grand Forks to see firsthand the outstanding work our state is doing to build the UAS industry and to integrate these aircraft into our airspace,’ the senators say in the press release. ‘We want to showcase how we're working to fully take advantage of these burgeoning technologies.’
In addition, the senators will host Huerta in Williston so that he can better understand the aviation infrastructure needs in the western part of the state. The press release notes that rapid industrial and residential growth from the oil boom in the Bakken formation have dramatically increased air traffic in western North Dakota airports, where air travel demands have exceeded infrastructure capacity. The senators, the press release adds, have previously met with Huerta to underscore the need for further investment in airports servicing the area.