A new legislative session has arrived and elected leaders from around the state will be hard at work discussing how to best position North Dakota for the future. I am happy to report that the North Dakota Aeronautics Commission (NDAC) has successfully prioritized our budget request and our initial agency bill has provided a strategically sound starting point for legislators. Our priorities are to ensure that adequate state support is provided for airport infrastructure projects and aviation workforce development initiatives throughout the following 2023-2025 biennium.
At the start of the session, NDAC staff was able to attend an “Information Day” at the capitol, where we met with legislators to discuss our operations and to promote the positive impacts and benefits of aviation. At the event, we also invited them to try their skills on a flight simulator. The simulation had the operator taking off from the Bismarck Airport, climbing to a safe altitude above the capitol building, and then turning back to attempt to land the aircraft on a runway. It was safe to say that the experience left them both smiling and impressed with the skills and training needed to become a competent pilot.
In my discussions at the capitol, I am invigorated in the fact that the story we can tell our elected leaders is truly remarkable. Looking back a decade ago, we were met with an astounding level of airport development requests, due to the economic expansion and significant energy production growth that the state was experiencing. Since that time, our legislators have afforded us and our communities with the opportunity to provide additional investments into both airport infrastructure and youth aviation education programming. The results of these efforts are now easy to see.
We have had great success in working with the FAA, airport sponsors, and their airport engineering teams to strategically prioritize projects to significantly update our system of airports. We have also worked hard to partner with the North Dakota Aviation Association (NDAA,) aviation museums, and high school programs throughout the state to grow youth aviation programming to the strongest point it has ever been. Our state currently boasts a record level of aviation activity in multiple areas that include air cargo levels, active pilots living within the state, and based aircraft counts. Commercial airline traffic is also strong and has almost fully recovered from COVID-19 impacts, as our state has surpassed 1 million passenger enplanements in 2022. In fact, we are currently exploring the need to expand multiple commercial terminal buildings in North Dakota. As the legislative session continues to unfold, I look forward to more conversations with our elected leaders to further discuss the aviation industry’s successes as well as its current needs and priorities.
If you are interested in learning more about our agency’s budget and would like to listen to the discussions on current and future priorities, please visit the legislative website at www.legis.nd.gov and search for House Bill 1006. On this website, you can also find and review my presentation and testimony materials, which has a wealth of information on the current status of North Dakota’s aviation system.
I want to also encourage all of you to stay engaged with the legislative process by keeping in touch with your elected officials and by utilizing the bill tracking system that can also be found on the legislative website. As legislation comes forward regarding elements that have a factor on aviation, I will be in direct communication with the NDAC and the Airport Association of North Dakota (AAND) as we work through any critical issues. I also encourage you to contact me directly to share any concerns or relevant information that you may have on pending legislation.
Lastly, I also hope that you are able to join us March 5-7, 2023, for the Fly-ND Conference that will be held in Bismarck. As always, NDAC staff, NDAA board members, and local volunteers have been hard at work preparing an exceptional program for all aviation enthusiasts to enjoy. I sincerely hope that you can take the time to come network with other aviators and to overall celebrate your love of aviation with us.
Wishing you smooth flying, Kyle
Kyle Wanner, Director
North Dakota Aeronautics Commission
701-328-9650 | email@example.com