Mar 03 2014
Discusses UAS and Infrastructure Investments at Upper Midwest Aviation Symposium
GRAND FORKS, N.D. – U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp, a member of the Congressional General Aviation Caucus, today joined key stakeholders in a discussion on aviation issues at the annual Upper Midwest Aviation Symposium.
“North Dakota continues to be a leader in the aviation industry and I'm working to make sure this remains the case for years to come,” said Heitkamp. “It’s been incredible to see the innovative Unmanned Aircraft Systems work being done in the state, paired with cutting-edge research and training for general and commercial aviation right here in Grand Forks at my alma mater, the University of North Dakota. However, there is still much work to do. With the growth of the industry, particularly in energy-impacted regions of the state, we must continue to invest in infrastructure to enable pilots and air passengers in the state to remain safe. It’s also important the right balance is struck so that general aviation pilots, commercial planes, military aircraft, and UAS craft are all able to access the skies.”
Late last year, Heitkamp pressed the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to select North Dakota as a UAS Test Site, pointing out the recent agreement between the County of Grand Forks and the Air Force on an enhanced use lease that will allow the development of a 217-acre business park at Grand Forks Air Force Base.
Heitkamp also played a key role in securing more than $17.5 million in grants through the federally-funded Airport Improvement Program (AIP) to North Dakota airports, including $6.5 million to construct a new terminal at Minot International Airport. These infrastructure improvements will help allow North Dakota’s airports to keep up with the growing economy, population, and demand for air travel.