North Dakota’s BVLOS network hits major milestone

North Dakota’s BVLOS network

North Dakota’s statewide BVLOS network has begun the initial stages of implementing infrastructure at the Northern Plains UAS Test Site (NPUASTS). The milestone means North Dakota is one step closer to beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) drone flights.

The first test site in the network to receive infrastructure is in an area near to Watford City and Williston, North Dakota, as it is near to existing state and local government infrastructure as well as in the proximity for many use cases.

The two companies that are deploying the infrastructure needed is L3Harris Technologies and Thales USA. They will work together to provide a safe and reliable service that the people of North Dakota can trust will work.

The rollout is beginning immediately and will include verification and validation system testing to ensure everything is working correctly and is in line with the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) standards. The testing is also being done to ensure the state’s money is spent as efficiently as possible and to set standard requirements for different drone operations.

Nicholas Flom, executive director of NPUASTS said:

We’re excited to begin the first stage of building this network in western North Dakota. It is ideally located in the heart of North Dakota’s oil and gas industry and covers a population center that will directly benefit from the network. This means that even the very first stage of the network will be commercially viable.

George Kirov, vice president and general manager, Commercial UAS Solutions at L3Harris shared:

As a leader in air traffic management, surveillance, and mission-critical communication technologies, L3Harris is excited to work with North Dakota to build an aviation-grade solution that integrates UAS into the national airspace system. The technologies we pioneered for beyond-visual-line-of-sight operations will expand the role of UAS for North Dakota and will help improve air safety, increase efficiency, reduce the cost of commercial data acquisition, and support the growth of drone commerce.

Todd Donovan, vice president of air traffic management at Thales USA, said:

The state of North Dakota’s Statewide BVLOS Network is truly the first of its kind. This robust network, which safely and securely integrates UAS into the national airspace, will serve as an enviable model and be the catalyst for broader commercial UAS operations for years to come as it relies on a complete solution that addresses the FAA’s safety risk management process.


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