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Optimism is in the Air

May 25, 2021 10:20 | Anonymous

Director’s Chair

As summer approaches, it’s exciting to see our airports showing increases in passengers and activity levels, as we begin to experience some of the best travel months since the start of the pandemic. Optimism is returning to the air as airlines are beginning to add back flights to certain communities while also making announcements of their plans to resume hiring. This is great news for our younger aviators who dream about a future career within the aviation industry.

At the state level, we have also recently seen the results of a successful legislative session as multiple bills that positively support our airports have passed. The Airport Association of North Dakota (AAND) will provide a legislative update in the summer issue and I congratulate them and all of our aviation leaders that have taken the time out of their busy schedule to help reach out to legislators on important issues.

I also want to thank the North Dakota Aviation Association (NDAA) Board and the Fly-ND Site Committee members for their hard work to ensure that our aviation community still had access to the annual Fly-ND Conference. I know it was not an easy decision to switch to a virtual format, but they rose to the challenge to ensure that an option to network and receive industry related updates was available. We all hope that next year will allow for an in-person event to take place.   

At the North Dakota Aeronautics Commission, our goal for the upcoming biennium is to continue to support our airports and the aviation industry’s ongoing recovery. This summer, we also expect to see additional progress being made on Vantis, our statewide unmanned aircraft systems Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) network. Vantis is expected to begin to allow commercial UAS operations in the western part of the state. We will also be continuing our work to promote aviation education and career initiatives throughout the state, in cooperation with the NDAA and our aviation museums. 

Large runway projects are underway in Watford City and Dickinson. At completion, they will conclude an aggressive plan that began 10 years ago to modernize and update our airport infrastructure in western North Dakota. Many other great airport projects throughout the state will also be ongoing this construction season and we always recommend that you check NOTAMS prior to making flight plans. 

This summer, we are also planning to update our pavement condition index study, a statewide project that occurs every three years. We work with an experienced pavement consultant firm to inspect and take inventory of the approximately 60 million square feet of pavement that exists at our airports throughout the state.  The data will show the condition of each pavement section, along with deterioration details, projected future conditions, and a recommended funding plan to ensure that the pavements are maintained in the most cost beneficial way possible. These studies have provided our state with a revolutionary way to manage its airport pavements and greatly helps us to develop a strong system plan for the future. 

Great things are happening all around us in aviation and I hope that you are able to feel that optimism as you take flight and breath in some of our fresh North Dakota air. As always, I encourage you to fulfill your passion of aviation by finding ways to make some incredible aviation related memories and adventures this summer. 

Wishing you smooth flying, 

Kyle Wanner, Director

North Dakota Aeronautics Commission

701-328-9650 |

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