Three-Tier Airspace Proposed for Drone Ops

According to reports in the Grand Forks Herald, the Air Force is looking to establish a series of airspace blocks in North Dakota to accommodate unmanned aerial systems (UASs). The blocks, said to be roughly 40 miles by 50 miles on average, would be configured in three tiers — 6,000 feet to 10,000 feet; 10,000 feet to 14,000 feet; and 14,000 feet to 18,000 feet. The Air Force said it would restrict private manned aircraft from only the tier being used by the UAS (now called RPAs by the Air Force — for Remotely Piloted Aircraft), and then only for short periods of time during transition. The report did not indicate how many such blocks of airspace the Air Force is considering over the state. Paul Hanson, president of the North Dakota Pilots Association told the Air Force in a public hearing that he hopes they will minimize their impact on the state's airspace. Similarly, Patrick Dame, executive director of the Grand Forks Regional Airport Authority said large areas of drone flying will hurt the private aviation business in his city. "People will avoid coming in," he said.

Mark Phelps is a senior editor at AVweb. He is an instrument rated private pilot and former owner of a Grumman American AA1B and a V-tail Bonanza.

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