U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Julianne Showalter
The Federal Aviation Administration recently approved restricted airspace in North Dakota for unmanned military aircraft testing.
The FAA approved the restricted airspace in an area from west of Grand Forks to near Devils Lake.
The FAA ruling establishes seven areas of restricted space “to contain hazardous non-eye safe laser training operations being conducted by the emerging UAS mission at Grand Forks Air Force Base (AFB); thus, transforming the range into a viable non-eye safe laser training location.”
The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association opposed the rule which the organization says sets a precedent by establishing the first restricted airspace specifically for unmanned aircraft.
President of the North Dakota Pilots Association Mark Scheele says the new space will cut off two commonly used general aviation corridors in the state. Scheele says the result will “create inconvenience and additional expense for North Dakota pilots”.
The new restricted airspace takes effect July 26. You can read the FAA rule here.
North Dakota is also hoping to be named one of a half dozen unmanned aircraft testing sites the FAA is expected to establish later this year.
Those sites will be used to integrate unmanned aircraft into the National Airspace.