Vantis has opened its Mission and Network Operations Centre (MNOC) at GrandSky Business and Aviation Park, in what it claims is the first statewide unmanned aircraft system (UAS) to coordinate beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) flight.

Northern Plains UAS Test Site (NPUASTS) executive director Trevor Woods said: “From this location, we have the technology to monitor and control the remote infrastructure to enable the entire operation.

“The MNOC will be integral to coordinating safe, repeatable BVLOS flights across North Dakota, and scalable to larger regions.”

Representatives were on hand from Vantis, NPUASTS, which administers Vantis, Thales, the FAA, the UAS industry, and North Dakota state leaders, who have provided ongoing vision and support since authorizing its creation in 2019.

North Dakota governor Doug Burgum said: “This operations centre is a prime example of how North Dakota continues to invest in technology to create opportunities for citizens and businesses and diversify our economy.

“With Vantis, we are creating a platform for entrepreneurs and innovators to develop new products and for the government and the private sector to offer better services to the public, and today’s grand opening further cements North Dakota as a
destination for UAS operations.”

Vantis signed a long-term agreement with GrandSky and began construction on the MNOC early last year and simultaneously, Thales was selected as the Vantis system integrator and long-term partner to build the system.

Key site testing and validation flights have been occurring regularly in western North Dakota, in primary test sites near Williston and Watford City, which have all been securely monitored at the MNOC.

Vice president of Airspace Mobility Solutions for the Americas at Thales Todd Donovan said: “Today marks a significant step towards the safe and efficient integration of drones into our airspace system, and with the MNOC up and running, drones will deliver real-world economic and social benefits to North Dakota citizens, at scale.”

One year ago, Burgum signed into law an additional $20 million investment to continue building Vantis to transform the state into the nation’s drone epicenter, while NPUASTS received $28 million two years previously to create and develop a statewide BVLOS network.

Previously, in February 2021, Volansi partnered with the NPUASTS to support Vantis after a competitive selection process when the VOLY C10  was the only drone selected to integrate and test Vantis’ technologies, such as Command and Control links or ground-based Detect and Avoid.