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Grand Sky announces beyond-visual-line-of-sight flight milestone

GRAND FORKS — Grand Sky, the nation’s first commercial UAS business and aviation park, announced today it will begin beyond-visual-line-of-sight (BVLOS) operations with large UAS this summer. The 217-acre park, west of Grand Forks,  is the first location in the U.S. to receive regulatory permission to host commercial BVLOS test flights for large unmanned aircraft. Flights will be launched and recovered at the adjacent Grand Forks Air Force Base runway and will be managed by Grand Sky in partnership with the Northern Plains UAS Test Site.

“The entire UAS industry has been waiting for the ability to repeatedly fly beyond line of sight in commercial air space so that they can demonstrate the true capabilities of these incredible technologies,” says Thomas Swoyer, Jr., president of Grand Sky Development Co., in a statement. “We are so excited to launch this capability at Grand Sky and provide industry members with exactly what they need to succeed in and advance this industry to the next level of integration. We look forward to working with Harris Corp. and the Air Force to install the system that will serve as observers for these flights.”

The Harris RangeVue system, purchased by Grand Sky through affiliate Grand Sky Airfield Operations, will combine several surveillance systems, including nearby Grand Forks AFB’s radar feed, locally installed ADS-B Xtend and FAA NextGen, into one stream, making it possible for users to achieve real-time situational awareness of manned and unmanned aircraft as required by the Federal Aviation Administration.

“Grand Sky is creating a truly unique setting to carry out UAS research and test flights,” says George Kirov, vice president and general manager of Harris Commercial UAS Solutions, in a statement. “We are excited to have a role in getting flights off the ground and stand ready to further assist North Dakota in maintaining its leadership role in the industry.”

Initial BVLOS flights at Grand Sky will be limited to UAS flying within 60 nautical miles of the park, according to Grand Sky. As processes are proven and additional data is collected, Grand Sky anticipates its BVLOS range will be extended to include the entire state of North Dakota and all classes of aircraft.