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Forum staff reports, Published April 26 2012

Delegation wants North Dakota named test range site

WASHINGTON – Sens. Kent Conrad and John Hoeven, Rep. Rick Berg and Gov. Jack Dalrymple made the case Wednesday to the Federal Aviation Administration that North Dakota is well-equipped to serve as a testing ground for future Unmanned Aircraft Systems development and training.

In a letter to Michael P. Huerta, the acting administrator for the FAA, the delegation cited North Dakota’s relatively unencumbered airspace, low population density and geographic location as the key criteria for selecting the FAA’s six test ranges for the integration of UAS into the national airspace system.

The FAA has already begun the process of establishing key criteria upon which the decisions to base these testing centers will be made. Those criteria will be announced later this summer before the six test range sites are announced in late 2012 and early 2013.