Dorgan Pushes Quicker Resolution to UAV Airspace Issue

Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) held a field hearing Sept. 13 in Grand Forks, N.D., to urge more speed by the Air Force and FAA in dealing with the issue of unmanned aircraft access to the airspace over North Dakota. Dorgan, who heads the Senate Subcommittee on Aviation Operations, Safety, and Security, has advocated expanded use of Grand Forks AFB, N.D., for remotely piloted aircraft operations since BRAC 2005 stripped the base of its KC-135 tankers. Dorgan, reports the Grand Forks Herald, said not meeting a January 2012 deadline is “not satisfactory.” FAA’s Hank Krakowski said USAF should install new radar units at the base. The Air Force so far has not set a date for such a new system. However, Maj. Gen. Marke Gibson, Air Staff director of operations, noted that RPAs and manned aircraft share airspace over Afghanistan, with a pace of operations that rivals Miami International.