Sen. Hoeven Visits UND To Meet With Aviation Leaders

Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D. (center), held a meeting on Friday with leaders of the Grand Forks area aviation community, including UND Aerospace, to discuss ways UND and others can help alleviate the current industry-wide pilot shortage. Image courtesy of Beth Bjerke.

UND Aerospace is poised to be the solution that the aviation industry has been yearning for to help end its long-dreaded pilot shortage.

But there are federal policies and rules in place that hinder flight schools, such as the John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences at UND, from doing even more to produce the world’s next crop of well-trained pilots and air traffic controllers.

Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., heard that message loud and clear on Friday when he visited the flight school’s airport headquarters for a meeting with University and regional aviation leaders.

There, Hoeven laid out the basics of a multipronged plan for how he’d like to expand the University’s role in training aspiring pilots, both piloted and unmanned, including tapping into flight training for the military and other federal agencies.

The strategies would lead to more flight training at UND and could mean more jobs locally through links to nearby Grand Forks Air Force Base and the adjacent Grand Sky unmanned aircraft business park and FAA test site, as well as enhanced partnerships with federal agencies such as U.S. Customs & Border Protection.

“For me jobs are always job one,” Hoeven said.

He went on to tout how uniquely qualified UND Aerospace is to help solve the pilot shortage by working with these regional aviation partners.

“Here you have UND, with its world-class facilities at the John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences, leading the world in commercial aviation and unmanned flight training,” said Hoeven, looking toward UND President Mark Kennedy and UND Aerospace Dean Paul Lindseth, who were part of the meeting. “You’re the epicenter.”

For more on Hoeven’s visit and the state of UND Aerospace, click here.