Grand Sky is located on Grand Forks Air Force Base in northeast North Dakota, approximately 90 miles south of the Canadian border and just 20 minutes west of Grand Forks.
This unique location provides a UAS testing environment like no other, enabling tenants to prove their technologies and operations capabilities at unmatched levels.
Extreme weather conditions allow opportunities to test in temperatures ranging from well below zero to triple digits and in a variety of situations. The area’s low population density means uncongested airspace and low/no-wait flight times in civilian-controlled airspace.
A cooperative agreement with the Grand Forks Air Force Base allows Grand Sky tenants to access the Air Force Base’s 12,351-foot runway and on-base amenities. Fully supportive local and state leadership and a low-cost of operations further complement the park’s unique setting, making it the premier UAS testing location in the U.S.
The Northern Plains UAS Test Site (NPUASTS), based in Grand Forks, N.D., is one of only six Federal Aviation Administration UAS test sites in the nation. Grand Sky collaborates closely with NPUASTS to provide tenants with expert technical assistance and COA support for UAS operations. In December 2016, the FAA granted authorization to the NPUASTS for beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) flights, with Grand Sky serving as the launch and recovery site for BVLOS flights.
Beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) flight testing is a crucial step toward fully integrating commercial large UAS and small drone operations into public airspace and Grand Sky is at the center of activity.
In late December 2016, the FAA granted authorization to the Northern Plains Unmanned Aircraft Systems Test Site (NPUASTS) for large UAS BVLOS flights. Aircraft will take off from Grand Sky using the Grand Forks Air Force Base runway and will be allowed to fly in a 60 nautical-mile radius through civilian-controlled airspace without chase planes. The first-of-its-kind approval is the result of approximately 18 months of planning and regulatory work.
Flights at the BVLOS testing and development range at Grand Sky will begin in spring 2017. Following successful testing and data collection, the range is expected to eventually be expanded to include the entire U.S. and all aircraft sizes.
Grand Forks Air Force Base is home to the U.S. Air Force’s 319th Air Base Wing. The base’s mission has been UAS-focused since 2011 and includes the operation of the RQ-4 Global Hawk, making it one of the nation’s most important sites for the development of UAS technologies.
Grand Sky has a unique collaborative relationship with the Grand Forks Air Force Base. Through its Joint Use Agreement with the U.S. Air Force and Grand Forks County, Grand Sky tenants have direct access to the 12,351-foot runway at Grand Forks Air Force Base. The Joint Use Agreement allows manned, unmanned and optionally manned commercial aircraft to utilize the runway, which allows for real-world situational testing.
Nearby Grand Forks, N.D., with about 60,000 residents, serves as a thriving economic center for Grand Sky tenants and their employees. North Dakota is a business-friendly state and is committed to maintaining its leading role within the UAS industry. The state offers a variety of funding options and incentives for UAS-focused businesses and the industry enjoys staunch support at the state, county and local levels.
The University of North Dakota houses an internationally renowned flight school and was the first university in the world to offer a UAS degree. Other higher education institutions in the area provide a variety of UAS-focused training programs, producing valuable workforce members for UAS industry members. Veterans of nearby Grand Forks Air Force Base offer additional potential employees with specific expertise in unmanned aircraft.
Businesses ranging from electrical component manufacturers to machinists are available to provide support and the state’s largest industries, agriculture and energy, offer ample opportunity for in-field process and technology testing.
Grand Sky Development Company is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Infinity Development Partners LLC. IDP possesses extensive experience with third-party financing for Department of Defense real estate and energy projects, as well as traditional facility design, construction and financing. IDP partners have structured and financed more than $10 billion in real estate transactions. Whether collaborating with government or private sector clients, the IDP team contributes tactical assessment partnered with innovative project development and knowledgeable management experience.
With its premier location in the center of the nation’s UAS development activity, Grand Sky is perfectly positioned to lead the commercialization of this exciting technology. North Dakota offers many additional resources for the UAS industry in a uniquely collaborative environment. Grand Sky collaborators include:
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Potential Tenant ContactsThomas Swoyer
Grand Sky Development Company
Grand Sky Development Company
Media ContactKris Bevill