University of North Dakota and Insitu Conduct Red River Aerial Flood Plain Surveillance

BINGEN, Wash.--()--The University of North Dakota’s (UND) Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Center of Excellence and Insitu Inc., are conducting aerial flood plain surveillance along the Red River using the ScanEagle UAS.

In preparation for the flood, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), North Dakota Gov. John Hoeven and Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty enlisted the help of UND to monitor rising river levels along the Red River, which threaten communities along the North Dakota and Minnesota border.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued a Certificate of Authorization (COA) permitting ScanEagle to be flown over the flooded area during this operation. UND is directing the effort with assistance from an Insitu flight operator team. This is the first time a university and a federal agency have collaborated on a project where a UAS has been used for flood plain research.

“We appreciate the support of NOAA, Govs. Hoeven and Pawlenty and the FAA for recognizing this critical need and allowing us to fly the ScanEagle in the national airspace. We are gathering important data that will provide scientists and first responders with real-time imagery of the flood progression, which will help facilitate future flood forecasting,” said Jeff Kappenman, director of the Unmanned Aircraft System Center of Excellence at UND.

While ScanEagle has logged more than 290,000 hours on successful military missions, UAS have not seen wide domestic use. State and county officials are beginning to recognize the vast potential and cost benefits of using UAS as an alternative to manned aircraft.

“We have long envisioned the benefits that unmanned aircraft can offer communities. They provide safe, effective alternatives to manned aircraft, offering continual surveillance, particularly when it is impractical to put a pilot in the air,” said Insitu Business Development Executive Paul McDuffee. “We thank the FAA, NOAA and UND for enabling the Red River operation.”

Professor Doug Marshall at UND is excited about this opportunity and the teaching tool it will provide his students. UND launched its UAS program because the university recognized the future role UAS would play and the opportunities they would provide for students interested in aviation. Marshall expects to use data from this operation to teach students. Data will also be shared with the FAA and NOAA, providing information that will be useful for future UAS operations.

The University of North Dakota, located in Grand Forks, N.D., is at the forefront of UAS education, research and training. UND recently initiated the first and only undergraduate program offering a bachelor’s degree in UAS Operations. The center is a key player in ongoing efforts to facilitate the integration of unmanned aircraft into the national airspace. Leveraging its 40 years of success in commercial aviation education UND is developing a national UAS training center in North Dakota. For more information on UAS activities at UND, visit www.uasresearch.org.

Insitu Inc., located in Bingen, Wash., is a wholly owned independent subsidiary of The Boeing Company. Insitu designs, develops and manufactures UAS and provides associated services for commercial and military applications. With a small footprint and expeditionary focus for both land and sea operations, the company’s family of UAS solutions is serving the needs of the global defense community. To date, these systems have accumulated more than 290,000 operational flight hours and 35,000 sorties. For more information, visit www.insitu.com.

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Contacts

Insitu
Jill Vacek, 509-493-6439
jill.vacek@insitu.com
or
University of North Dakota
Taylor Butterfield, 651-468-8295
butterfi@aero.und.edu

ScanEagle aerial image of a farm house outside of Oslo, MN (Photo: Insitu)

ScanEagle aerial image of a farm house outside of Oslo, MN (Photo: Insitu)

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Contacts

Insitu
Jill Vacek, 509-493-6439
jill.vacek@insitu.com
or
University of North Dakota
Taylor Butterfield, 651-468-8295
butterfi@aero.und.edu