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  • 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 | kcwanner@nd.gov

  • May 19, 2021 10:59 | Anonymous

    Chairman’s Comments

    Summer is almost here and we have a lot to look forward to! Before you take in all that we have packed into this edition of the Fly-ND Quarterly, let’s take a minute to ponder a few iconic moments, both recent and some time ago, that will forever be linked in aerospace history. 

    On December 17, 1903, in Kitty Hawk, NC, the Wright brothers logged the first powered, controlled flight.Now, fast forward to February 19, 2021. This is the day that NASA’s rover called Perseverance landed at the Jezero Crater of Mars, carrying a helicopter called Ingenuity. 

    Two months later, on April 19, 2021, Ingenuity took to the skies of Mars, as did the Wright Flyer. Carrying a tiny piece of fabric from the original Wright Flyer aircraft, Ingenuity successfully completed the first powered, controlled flight by an aircraft on another planet. The flight lasted 39.1 seconds and consisted of a vertical takeoff, climbing ten feet above ground, hovering briefly, completing a turn, and then landing. 

    While the Wright brothers’ first flight in Kitty Hawk and Ingenuity’s first flight on Mars may be separated by 117 years and 173 million miles of space, they will always be uniquely connected.

    As an homage to the Wright brothers, the Federal Aviation Association (FAA) designated the airfield on Mars as Wright Brothers Field, with the official International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) designator IGY, call-sign INGENUITY. 

    I hope this incredible achievement prompts you to reach out to the next generation of aviators and connect them with a world full of opportunity. Our Fly-ND Career Expo at the Fargo Air Museum on May 14, 2021, and the Fargo AirSho on July 24-25, 2021, would be great opportunities for students to discover their own inspiration and pathway to a career in aviation. 

    As chairman of the North Dakota Aviation Association (NDAA), it has been an honor to lead the organization for the past few years. 

    Your membership, whether an individual or an allied company looking to better connect and serve the aerospace industry in North Dakota, helps us to achieve our mission to promote and grow aviation throughout the state. 

     If you or your company are not a member, consider joining our mission.

    Blue Skies!  Darren

    P.S. Thank you to Elayna Hall at EAA HQ for sharing the Wright Brothers/Ingenuity connection.

    To learn more about Ingenuity, visit: https://astronomy.com/news/2021/04/fabric-from-the-original-wright-flyer-takes-flight-on-mars

    Darren Hall, Chairman

    North Dakota Aviation Associaton


  • May 19, 2021 10:42 | Anonymous

    Commercial Service Airport of the Year

    Fargo’s Hector International Airport has received the “2020 Commercial Service Airport of the Year” award. The award is for excellence in maintaining safety, project management, and community outreach and is sponsored by the North Dakota Aeronautics Commission in partnership with the Airport Association of North Dakota.

    Hector International Airport worked hard to ramp up cleaning efforts to protect passengers and employees, and invested in a robot vacuum unit to allow airport staff to focus on sanitizing vital areas throughout the facility.

    Hector International Airport boasts a busy and rapidly growing air cargo facility. In 2020 a record was set, with more than 420 million pounds of cargo flown through the airport and a growth of 7.5% over the previous year. 

    Hector International Airport joined with The Arts Partnership to showcase the work of local artists with its ArtWORKS exhibit. As part of the program, a variety of local musicians regaled airport visitors with 18 live musical performances during the 2020 holiday season. 

    The Hector International Airport is congratulated for a tremendous year of accomplishments.

    General Aviation Airport of the Year

    The JB Lindquist Regional Airport has received the North Dakota “2020 General Aviation Airport of the Year” award. 

    The airport showed a strong belief in aviation advocacy and community outreach by hosting a career day, where high school shop class students were educated on career opportunities in aviation and learned how aircraft systems are different compared to vehicles. The airport also worked with Dakota Butte Museum and presented on the history of Hettinger Municipal Airport, starting around the 1930s. 

    The JB Lindquist Regional Airport showed community support by being one of the only airports to host a fly-in breakfast in 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The event raised about $1,500 to help support the local fire department. 

    The airport showed great progress in 2020 by constructing several projects. They poured concrete pads by the General Aviation (GA) terminal and self-serve fuel tanks, installed digital keypad locks on the majority of the hangars for added security, replaced airport windsocks, extended the crosswind overrun by 300 feet, and finished rehabilitation of both partial parallel taxiways, as well as constructed a full parallel taxiway.

    To top off all the airport’s accomplishments in 2020, the airport decided to rename the airport from Hettinger Municipal Airport to JB Lindquist Regional Airport, in honor of the long-time aviator and airport manager, JB Lindquist.  

    The JB Lindquist Regional Airport is congratulated for a tremendous year of accomplishments.

    Passport Awards

    Eight pilots were presented with gold awards for participating in the “Fly North Dakota Airports” Passport Program. The passport program presents awards to pilots for flying to airports in the state, as well as attending FAA Safety Seminars and visiting the two North Dakota Air Museums. 

    The most prestigious gold award level was achieved by eight pilots during 2020. These pilots received a leather flight jacket embroidered with the North Dakota Flying Legacy logo, in addition to the bronze and silver awards. This prestigious accomplishment is achieved when visiting all 89 public use airports in North Dakota, visiting both air museums, and attending at least three FAA Safety seminars. These pilots join the 71 others who have completed the passport program in previous years, making a total of 78 total pilots who have achieved the gold award level to date.

    The following is a list of the individuals:

    Deen R. Brecht

    Michael Moe

    Jean Moe

    David Operchal

    Pat Fagan

    Scott Williamson

    Dale M Ripplinger

    Jayme Opp

  • May 19, 2021 10:38 | Anonymous

    By Joshua Simmers

    The organization formerly known as the North Dakota Pilots Association (NDPA) would be pleased, rather, would be elated, with the merger into the North Dakota Aviation Association (NDAA). Our top priority was to ensure that all remaining NDPA funds find their way into scholarships. Not only has the NDAA made it possible to reach a permanent endowment scholarship for pilots, it has made it better than what the NDPA could have ever done on its own. With your help, we can ensure a pilot scholarship is awarded annually for at least one thousand dollars! 

    The NDAA has generously donated to get us close to the endowment threshold. But we are left with some work to do. In order to get to an endowment scholarship that can be awarded in three years, we need to raise another $4,000. In order to get to a scholarship that can be immediately awarded, we need to raise $9,000. This is when we get blunt about the numbers.

    I am an average guy, and I have pledged $1,000 to get the Pilot Legacy Scholarship program up and running. Another average Mike, who also has kids and all the associated bills, also pledged $1,000. Folks like us are simply grateful for aviation in our lives and realize the two greatest things we can do to bring others into the flock are take newbies for airplane rides and help them get their license. Scholarships help. If former NDPA members all pitched in a few dollars, we would quickly meet our goal within a time fit for the Reno Air Races. With a matching pledge of $1,000, we can generously start paying it forward. We ask you to consider a donation, large or small, recurring or one time, to keep the aviation scholarship fund active. Think of how your pledge will become a legacy to inspire a new generation of aviators!

    Becoming part of the NDAA has multiplied our efforts and capacity beyond what the board anticipated. Becoming a member is a great way to stay in touch with aviation in the state and perpetuate opportunities for future enthusiasts and professionals. NDPA scholarship funds are already far more and longer-lasting than they were a short while ago. With your help, it can be a permanent legacy. As you look to the skies and dream, remember it is as simple as “help others achieve their dreams and you will achieve yours.” (Les Brown)

    Other ways to give to the Pilot Legacy Scholarship can be found at www.fly-nd.com/Scholarships. Contact Joshua Simmers: 701-955-4553 or joshuas@bismarckaero.com or Stacy Krumwiede at stacy@scgnd.com

    If you would like to make a tax deductible donation, we can make that happen. We are even open to stock, bond, and property donations. Donations to the Pilot Legacy Scholarship qualify for North Dakota’s Planned Gift Tax Credit (a donation of $5,000 actually only costs $3,000 as $2,000 becomes credited to your state taxes and potentially applied to subsequent years’ taxes). For property and investment type options, we will help you coordinate with Amy at the North Dakota Community Foundation (amy@ndcf.net).

  • May 19, 2021 10:30 | Anonymous

    NDAA Executive Directors Note

    By The Staiger Consulting Group

    Welcome back to another exciting and inspirational edition of the Fly-ND Quarterly! Springtime arrives with a renewed sense of enthusiasm and excitement for what is to come. Windows are cracked, tulips are blooming, there’s air in the bike tires, and water in the bird bath. The air is crisp and clean, and I feel ready to take on the world and try new things. There’s even a little spring in my step! Recently, I bought a scooter: a 1981 Honda Express. It’s nothing fancy, but it’s fun, exciting, and new to me. Mind you, I have never actually driven anything that resembles a motorbike. So here I am, trying new things and learning along the way, even as I enter an era of age that is very similar to that of my Honda Express.

    This new and refreshing time is reminiscent of what is happening within the North Dakota Aviation Association (NDAA). We have some new and exciting things coming up this spring and summer and our future is bright. The opportunities for students, professionals, and aviation enthusiasts are coming together in a couple of fun events. We encourage you to try something new as well! Listed below are a few upcoming adventures for you to try.

    To kick off our spring and summer events, we are preparing for our First Annual Aviation Career Expo. This event is hosted at the Fargo Air Museum and is scheduled for May 14, 2021. It is targeted at high school and college students, ages 16-22. Our focus is to introduce young people to the vast array of career opportunities within the aviation industry, and for them to explore a career in aviation. You are the best resource to accomplish this task. The Expo consists of industry leaders, exhibitors, aircraft displays, guest speakers, and of course scholarships! We want to provide them with information and resources to help them look beyond the horizon and develop a vision for their future. We hope to make this event a great success; everyone is welcome to participate, including students, exhibitors, and volunteers! 

    Secondly, preparations are underway for the First Annual Summer Event. I’m not going to reveal too much about this, as plans are being finalized. I don’t know about you, but I’m ready for a face-to-face fun event to network, socialize, and raise some scholarship dollars for students. I promise there will be something fun for everyone to try at this event! Be on the lookout for more information soon.

    Whether you are new to the industry, are a student, or simply a lifelong learner, there is something here for you! I invite you to hop on board, join the NDAA, attend an event, bring a friend, or maybe even buy a scooter…

    We hope to see you soon!

    Stacy & Mike Krumwiede

  • May 19, 2021 10:23 | Anonymous

    The North Dakota Aviation Association Membership Committee has recently formed, and has yielded some exciting early results. The committee members include Devin Cole, Chelly Ontis, Stacy Krumweide and Jamie Bender from our Executive Director team, and Tanner Overland and Justin Weninger from the Board of Directors. Together, they have been working to invite new members to join, as well as provide greater benefits to existing members.

     “We think that all members, from individual members to our allied and organizational members, as well as student members, will greatly profit from the new benefits and added services that we hope to bring to our members through this committee,” says membership committee chairman Justin Weninger.

    The committee is planning to unveil the new membership plans and benefits later this summer. Keep an eye on the Fly-ND website, Facebook page, and the Quarterly to learn more. If you are not yet a member of the North Dakota Aviation Association, please consider joining today to take full advantage of the benefits available already and to enjoy the new benefits, as soon as they launch.

    Weninger adds, “This is something you’re not going to want to miss out on. We’ve got some incredible opportunities for our new and existing members, and I can’t wait to share them!”

    Did you know you can become a North Dakota Aviation Association member for only $25? Plus, you’ll qualify for the new benefits (see below) while you enjoy the current ones. 

    Join today at here.

  • February 24, 2021 15:36 | Anonymous

    We are excited to bring to you Richard VanGrunsven, Founder, Van's Aircraft, as this year’s keynote for our conference. Register today so you don’t miss his session!

    (Free for NDAA members / $25 membership fee). 

    Richard VanGrunsven was raised on small family farm in western Oregon near Verboort, Oregon. His father, who had flown briefly in the mid-1930s, passed on an interest in aviation on to several of his 8 children. So, when Richard – now called Dick or “Van” -- and his older brother Jerry learned to fly, the family leveled a 670’ grass strip on the only flat acreage on their small farm. Throughout high school and college years the boys flew a Cub, and later a Taylorcraft from this tiny runway. Van’s flying included frequent flights to visit the few homebuilders of the era. Often his destination would be one of the noteworthy pioneers of experimental aviation, George Bogardus and Hobie Sorrell. Both had private airstrips that enabled Van to visit regularly.

    After gaining ratings up through CFI and finishing college with a degree in engineering, he joined the Air Force for a three-year tour. A slight color vision problem prevented his acceptance in the pilot training program. He remained active in flying, becoming a key figure in the base flying club, and owning and rebuilding two single seat homebuilts.

    The first was a rather sad performing 65 hp Stits Playboy which Van flew for a year and sold. During that time, he purchased another Playboy airframe and rebuilt it, installing a 125 hp Lycoming engine, bubble canopy, and Hoerner style wingtips. This flew much better, but still had a high landing speed, high sink rate, and only moderately good cruise speed. 

    Within a year of returning to civilian life he had designed, built and installed a set of cantilever aluminum wings to replace the strut-braced wood and fabric originals. The Playboy flew like a new airplane.  Van, following aviation tradition, used his initials and renamed it the RV-1.  Over a 3-year period, Van flew the RV-1 for 550 hours and enjoyed its performance immensely, but still, he was aware that it was a hybrid and felt something better was possible. Van figured that an airplane should be able to fly into any reasonable airstrip, have enough power and maneuverability for good basic aerobatics, and be as fast as possible. This may not seem to be a particularly inspired goal, but just consider for a minute how few airplanes actually achieve it. He reluctantly sold the RV-1 (now in the EAA Museum) and began design and construction of the RV-3. It flew for the first time in August 1971. It proved to be a delightful airplane, an improvement in every way over the RV-1. Even with its 195-mph top speed, it could operate from the short farm airstrip.

    In January 1973, Van began marketing plans and parts for the RV-3. That same year Van became a family man with his marriage to Diane, and by the end of that decade their three children were added to the family. After several years of moderate success, Van recognized a growing demand for a two-seat plane.  By 1979 he had found enough spare time to develop the tandem seat RV-4, and Van’s Aircraft’s fortunes rose. Subsequent designs – the RV-6/6A, RV-7/7A, RV-8/8A, RV-9/9A, RV-10, the Light Sport RV-12 and now the RV-14 – became the most popular line of kit-built aircraft in the world. His reputation for honesty and straight talk has gained him the respect of both his competitors and compatriots in the aviation world.  That position has made him a powerful spokesman for aviation safety, reasonable regulation and responsible flying.

    In 2021, Van continues to lead the company he founded – if not through daily hands-on management, through the business philosophy he has instilled. Van’s Aircraft is indisputably the most successful business of its kind. Weather permitting, Van commutes to his desk in the engineering office (no private office, no executive washroom, no reserved parking spot), from his 30-mile distant airstrip home, usually in an RV. Well, not every day…when the soaring conditions are good, he pulls out his electrically powered Antares self-launching sailplane and further engages his passion for flight. 

  • February 08, 2021 14:14 | Anonymous

    By Tajae Viaene

    If you find yourself reading these articles through thick glasses, in between reruns of “The Andy Griffith Show,” this column may just be right up your alley. Maybe you have been an aviator all of your life, yet you still want to learn more. Or perhaps you are just pondering getting started in your later years. Have no fear, the young fledgling at your local flight school may be eager to fly, but the patience and maturity that comes with age are beneficial tools that will aid you in this journey. Let’s discuss a few tips regarding flight training as a vintage aviator.

    Many times, I have initiated training for customers in their 70’s or 80’s. Quite often, at some moment during the first lessons, the question will be asked, “Do you think I can accomplish this at my age?” Well, I’m here to say that yes, you will likely not only succeed at this newfound endeavor, but feel younger and more vibrant every day you hop in the airplane, as you become that giddy little kid again!

    The art of flying takes hard work, patience, persistence, and much practice. At this point in your life, if you are able to devote the time needed for studying and regular flight training lessons, the battle is already half won. 

    You have decided it’s time to start flying, so what’s next? Go ahead and take the first step by scheduling a meeting with a Certified Flight Instructor (CFI). They will bring you up to speed on the ever-changing medical requirements and tailor flight training to your unique needs. Get yourself a quality headset, as hearing loss is a cruel but nearly inevitable joke played upon us as we age. Be sure to get the right study materials to match your learning style. For instance, if you learn best by reading textbooks and taking notes, an online course is probably not the most efficient way for you to soak in the required ground knowledge. And by all means, stick with a steady plan; sequential yet timely lessons help enormously as you progress through your training requirements. 

  • February 08, 2021 14:12 | Anonymous

    The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) today announced $5.8 million in research, education and training grants to universities that comprise FAA’s Air Transportation Center of Excellence for Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), also known as the Alliance for System Safety of UAS through Research Excellence (ASSURE).

     “These universities are making great strides in advancing the Department’s efforts to integrate UAS safely and efficiently into our Nation’s airspace system, ultimately delivering new transportation solutions and economic benefits for the American people,” Acting U.S. Secretary of Transportation Steven G. Bradbury said.

     The FAA’s Center of Excellence for UAS is advancing the administration’s transportation and economic goals that air travel provides to the nation. The Center of Excellence UAS universities received a total of $5,822,990 to advance specific goals and projects.

     “These universities are making great strides in advancing our efforts to safely and efficiently integrate UAS into our nation’s airspace system,” said FAA Administrator Steve Dickson. “Each grant is designed to explore the questions that will lead to greater UAS and unmanned air carrier integration, which will ultimately deliver new transportation solutions and economic benefits for the American people.”

     More than 1.7 million recreational and commercial drones are in the active UAS fleet. That number is expected to grow to as high as 2.31 million by 2024. The ASSURE grants are aimed at continuing and enhancing the safe and successful integration of drones into the nation’s airspace system (NAS).

    The FAA has established 13 Centers of Excellence in critical topic areas focusing on: unmanned aircraft systems; alternative jet fuels and environment; general aviation safety; commercial space transportation; airliner cabin environment and intermodal transportation research; aircraft noise and aviation emissions mitigation; advanced materials; general aviation research; airworthiness assurance; operations research; airport pavement and technology; computational modeling of aircraft structures; and technical training and human performance.

    The first round of ASSURE grants for Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 were awarded for the following eight (8) research areas.


    Air Carrier Operations–Investigate and Identify the Key Differences Between Commercial Air Carrier Operations and Unmanned Transport Operations

    This research will provide findings, recommendations and lessons learned that will enhance the FAA’s understanding of the requirements for certifying large UAS for air carrier operations.

    Specific focus of this evaluation will analyze projected demand by location (e.g. rural, exurb, suburb, or urban) and the feasibility of commercial UAS air carrier operations. It will also explore the role of autonomy in UAS vehicles beginning with operations in less risky areas such as rural locations to exurbs (areas beyond the suburbs), and then on to more populated areas of suburban and metro areas. This exploration will focus on the passenger transportation environment, and investigate the workforce impact of this new capability. 

    Kansas State University – Lead University


    University of Alaska, Fairbanks


    North Carolina State University


    University of North Dakota


    The Ohio State University



    UAS Cargo Operations–From Manned Cargo to UAS Cargo Operations: Future Trends, Performance, Reliability, and Safety Characteristics Towards Integration into the NAS

    This research will evaluate the feasibility of commercial UAS cargo operations together with the projected demand by location. Furthermore, the research will detail anticipated needs of the FAA to support further integration of UAS cargo operations, including how greater autonomy may provide an improved level of safety. 

    University of Alaska, Fairbanks – Lead University


    Kansas State University


    University of Alabama, Huntsville


    North Carolina State University


    University of North Dakota


    The Ohio State University



    High-Bypass UAS Engine Ingestion Test

    Inclusion of large numbers of small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS) into the NAS may pose unique hazards to manned aircraft. It is necessary to determine the potential severity of sUAS mid-air collisions with manned aircraft to define an Equivalent Level of Safety for UAS operations. Since sUAS are not similar to any other foreign body (e.g. bird, ice, volcanic ash) that the FAA currently regulates, understanding the severity of an ingestion is critical to being able to estimate the extent of potential damage.


    The Ohio State University – Lead University


    Wichita State University



    Small UAS (sUAS) Mid-Air Collision (MAC) Likelihood

    This research focuses on sUAS MAC likelihood analysis with general aviation (GA) and commercial aircraft. Because severity research varies based on where a collision occurred on a manned aircraft, this likelihood research will not only look at the probability of a MAC, but also the likelihood of colliding with different parts of a manned aircraft. 

    Wichita State University – Lead University


    Kansas State University


    Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University


    University of Kansas



    Mitigating GPS and Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) Risks for UAS

    This research is necessary to enable safe and secure automated sUAS navigation and safe and secure automated sUAS Detect and Avoid operations. Unvalidated or unavailable GPS and “ADS-B In” data poses security and safety risks to automated UAS navigation and to Detect and Avoid operations. Erroneous, spoofed, jammed, or drop outs of GPS data may result in unmanned aircraft position and navigation being incorrect. 

    University of North Dakota – Lead University


    Kansas State University


    Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University


    Oregon State University


    University of Alaska, Fairbanks



    Shielded UAS Operations–Detect and Avoid (DAA)

    This research is intended to identify risks and recommend solutions to the FAA that can enable shielded UAS operations such as a flight within close proximity to existing obstacles and not to exceed the height of the obstacle. This effort will identify risks, determine whether shielded operations can be made safe, to what degree UAS Detect and Avoid requirements can be reduced, and recommend UAS standoff distances from manned aircraft and ground obstacles, including buildings and air traffic control towers.

    University of North Dakota – Lead University


    Kansas State University


    Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University


    New Mexico State University


    North Carolina State University



    Validation of Visual Operation Standards for Small UAS (sUAS)

     This research will measure Visual Observer (VO)/Remote Pilot (RP) performance in avoiding other aircraft and hazards, identify and estimate potential failures, and inform recommendations for training standards. The research will help the FAA and industry consensus standards bodies, such as American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM), to better understand the safety performance and challenges associated with VO/RP visual line of sight operations to include Extended Visual Line of Sight (EVLOS). Under EVLOS, the small unmanned aircraft system (UAS) is beyond the visual range of an observer but any manned aircraft are still within visual detection range of the ground observer. Research outcomes may also potentially inform recommendations for future regulatory updates to Part 107, the FAA’s Small UAS Rule.


    Kansas State University – Lead University


    Wichita State University


    Mississippi State University


    New Mexico State University



    UAS Flight Data Research in support of Aviation Safety Information and Sharing (ASIAS)

     This research will help pull together different flight data sources including high quality UAS flight data, commercial and general aviation flight data, and surveillance data. This data will be utilized to enhance the development of safety case analyses for NAS stakeholders (e.g. operators, regulators, and certification authorities) and to support the approval of new UAS operations in the NAS.

    University of North Dakota – Lead University


    Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University


  • February 08, 2021 14:09 | Anonymous

    BThe problem with flying Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) is that it’s incredibly prohibitive and not repeatable, scalable, or economically viable - yet. The requirements to make it possible – extensive research and technology development, building out infrastructure, testing and validation, securing regulatory approvals, creating an advanced safety case – take years to meet and are simply unrealistic for most single-use cases. Imagine if everyone had to build their own road to travel further than their own yard, and had to individually negotiate approvals for what they’d be able to do and how they’d be able to do it, once they did. Imagine there being separate roads, regulatory approvals, safety measures, and building procedures, for the USPS, FedEx, and UPS. One for fire engines, one for ambulances, and one for police. One for every different trucking company. It’s expensive, it’s inefficient, and it just doesn’t make sense. 

    It’s a first-of-its-kind, turnkey product that will enable BVLOS flights across the state without the overwhelming upfront investment of “building your own road.” It’s not an exaggeration to say that there is nothing in this country like Vantis; it is truly a revolutionary first step towards opening up the skies for UAS operations. Administered by North Dakota’s homegrown center of UAS expertise, the Northern Plains UAS Test Site (NPUASTS), Vantis infrastructure is already being installed at key sites in McKenzie and Williams Counties with a Mission and Network Operations Center (MNOC) in Grand Forks County. 

    Improving Quality of Life

    Enabling commonplace BVLOS flights for public and commercial use cases isn’t just an exciting advancement in the UAS industry, it’s a boon for North Dakotans, who will be able to reap the benefits for decades to come. As Northern Plains UAS Test Site executive director Nicholas Flom is fond of saying, North Dakota doesn’t have a last mile problem, it has a last hundred-mile problem. North Dakota isn’t just rural; 36 of our 53 counties are designated as frontier counties, meaning they have a population density of fewer than six people per square mile. Traditionally, this has posed challenges related to meeting the needs of our citizens. Mail and package deliveries take longer. Access to healthcare is more limited than in cities, and wait times on medical test results are longer. They are often last to receive technological developments. This was true when electrical infrastructure was being built out, and continues to be true with deployment of high-speed internet infrastructure. There are miles and miles of roads between rural North Dakotans and population centers that need consistent maintenance and inspection. Following a storm or a natural disaster, those long roads need to be safe before emergency responders can arrive or before technicians can be deployed to fix critical infrastructure, like downed power lines after a blizzard. 

    People often frame this as a disadvantage, but Flom believes it’s an opportunity. “Unique problems just mean that we need a unique solution – and luckily, North Dakota is an entrepreneurial state.” 

    When people think of commercial UAS operations, package delivery is often what they think of. It’s true that Vantis will open the door to fast, efficient deliveries for retail items, as well as things like medications for people who receive theirs by mail. But there is a much larger scope of what is possible. Rural residents, who may have to wait days to get test results back from the lab in the nearest big city, could see a much quicker turn-around. Quicker results mean quicker treatment, which often means better outcomes. 

    This is also true for emergency response. Following a natural disaster, returning electricity to a rural hospital is imperative. Locating lost hikers or people who may have been stranded in a storm, providing first aid supplies to the scene of an accident before ambulances arrive, or getting communication equipment to someone injured and stranded in a rural location, who just needs to remain calm and know that help is on the way. Doing these things quickly can be a matter of life and death. 

    Not only does Vantis have the potential to make North Dakotans safer, it is poised to improve their lives. Quick, safe, and efficient rail inspections not only reduce the risk of dangerous crashes and derailments, they also reduce the risk of costly delays and expensive maintenance that contribute to higher prices. Extensive road and bridge inspections not only make North Dakotans safer, they mean that we get better gas mileage and hit fewer bumps in the road on the way to visit relatives over the holidays. It means we are all back on the road sooner after a flood, a blizzard, or a tornado. Monitoring wells and pipelines to respond to spills quickly, or catch them before they happen, means a thriving energy industry in the state and clean, unspoiled natural spaces for outdoor recreation and tourism. Agriculture is the heart of North Dakota’s economy; UAS surveys can help improve crop yields, track herds, and produce more food for the country and for export. Vantis will help North Dakota farmers work smarter, not harder. 

    These opportunities for commercialization using UAS do not exist elsewhere in the United States, because Vantis is literally the first of its kind. The development of this network will draw in business from around the country. However, it will also inspire exciting innovation right here in the state. It makes sense, as our state already has all the components needed to support UAS education, training, research, and commercialization.

    Why North Dakota? 

    North Dakota has been one of a handful of leaders in UAS innovation across the country. The University of North Dakota and North Dakota State University are home to experts with decades of experience in aviation and UAS technology. The Grand Forks Air Force Base (GFAFB) specializes in UAS flights. In 2013, NPUASTS was selected to be one of only seven Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) designated UAS test sites. Since then, UAS businesses have been flourishing here and the nation’s first UAS business and aviation park, Grand Sky, opened at the Grand Forks Air Force Base. The NPUASTS, in partnership with North Dakota Department of Transportation (NDDOT), was a lead participant in the FAA’s Integration Pilot Program (IPP), whose goal was to explore how to safely integrate UAS into the national airspace system (NAS); NPUASTS, along with the NDDOT, was further selected to participate in the second iteration of the IPP, known as BEYOND. North Dakota is on the cutting edge of UAS flight beyond visual line of sight in this country. 

    It’s no exaggeration to say that North Dakota is uniquely positioned as a leader in UAS advancements. We’re also supported by state leaders and partners, who believe in Vantis. 

    One of the missions of Vantis is to leverage existing infrastructure and capabilities deployed throughout the state. The NDDOT owns and operates towers throughout the state, which Vantis will be able to use to install remote infrastructure. The North Dakota Information Technology Department (NDIT) manages a network called STAGEnet, which Vantis will use to support the backhaul network. The North Dakota Aeronautics Commission (NDAC) works with each of the 89 public-use airports in the state, a tremendous asset when Vantis needs access to or contacts at these airports. The North Dakota Department of Commerce is the funding agency that provides strategic guidance for Vantis. 

    Senator John Hoeven has been a long-time advocate for the development of a thriving UAS ecosystem in North Dakota. Governor Doug Burgum is second to none when it comes to supporting leading-edge initiatives. Lieutenant Governor Brent Sanford chairs the Northern Plains Unmanned Systems Authority, which is directly responsible for the execution of Vantis. North Dakota’s legislature has been incredibly supportive of UAS initiatives in the state and of Vantis in particular, approving the initial investment to begin building out the infrastructure and make North Dakota the nation’s UAS epicenter. 

    It’s not only North Dakotans who see the incredible value of a network like Vantis. In 2019, NPUASTS hosted an industry day to outline the vision for Vantis and to announce the upcoming competitive Request for Proposals (RFP) for the selection of three system engineers/system integrators. Collins Aerospace, a Raytheon Technologies Company, L3Harris Technologies, and Thales USA bring decades of safety experience in manned aviation, as well as cutting-edge UAS technology to the table. Each of these giants in aviation technology has been involved in the development of the network. L3Harris Technologies and Thales USA were selected to build out the initial key sites. Volansi’s VOLY C10 was selected as the aircraft to test and validate Vantis. It will ensure the safety and reliability of the network and perform use-case development flights.

    The Future of UAS 

    Integral to Vantis’ success will be the Mission Network and Operations Center (MNOC), which is currently under construction at Grand Sky Business and Aviation Park in Grand Forks county, attached to the Grand Forks Air Force Base. Grand Sky is the only park of its kind in the country, assisted in its innovative capabilities by that relationship and proximity to the Air Force base. The MNOC will function as a command center, connecting all of the remote sites across the state, including towers and airports that house Vantis technology infrastructure, to the backhaul data network. Top of the line, aviation-grade technology will ensure that Vantis is safe and reliable by monitoring the health of the network and identifying problems before they can impact flights. 

    Because nothing like Vantis exists in this country, nothing like the MNOC exists either. This is infrastructure that is designed to grow with Vantis as it develops and grows, as the UAS industry is evolving rapidly, both in terms of technology but also in terms of regulations. For example, the FAA recently announced final rules for Remote Identification (Remote ID) of drones. These rules would allow for small UAS to fly over people and at night under certain conditions or circumstances that one would normally require a waiver. This change will facilitate greater integration of UAS into the National Airspace System. The NPUASTS is assessing the implementation of these rules and their incorporation into Vantis for the benefit of both unmanned and manned aviation. Once incorporated, the conditions in which Vantis can operate are significantly expanded. 

    y Nicole P. Ingalls-Caley, Marketing Manager at the Northern Plains UAS Test Site

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North Dakota Aviation Association

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