The Federal Aviation Administration has authorized unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) to fly in a wide area of North Dakota, a move that will give industry more opportunities for research that could help the agency integrate UAS into the nation’s airspace.
Two Certificates of Waiver or Authorization (COAs) awarded to the Northern Plains UAS Test Site greatly expand the airspace available for research flights to most of northeastern North Dakota. The FAA soon expects to approve two more COAs that will make such missions possible in about two-thirds of the state.
“This is a perfect example of how we, working together with the FAA, have made North Dakota a premier location for industry to conduct research related to UAS,” Robert Becklund, Executive Director of the Northern Plains UAS Test Site.
This Northern Plains UAS Test Site COA milestone allows the Northern Plains UAS Test Site to offer industry partners increased airspace access to meet their research objectives. This streamlined process for integration of new users will further enhance the capabilities of the Northern Plains UAS Test Site while advancing the FAA’s ability to collect the operational data needed for NAS integration.
Operationally within the approved airspace volume, the Northern Plains UAS Test Site will individually activate defined operational areas within this COA based on industry needs. These defined operational areas will follow the existing notification processes, which include utilization of the FAA’s Notices to Airmen (NOTAM) system, community outreach and scheduling directly with local airspace users. All flight operations will be conducted by FAA-rated pilots and under Visual Flight Rules.
The FAA has approved five different types of small UAS (under 55 lbs.) to fly in the Northern Plains test site.. The latest FAA authorizations will allow the site to add additional UAS to the existing airspace through a prearranged process with the FAA. This streamlined process will speed up the approval process for the industry and the FAA.
Source: Press Releases