Skip to main content

NDDOT Receives Federal Waiver to Fly Drones Over People

By ParazeroSeptember 13, 2021Commercial Drones, Drone Safety

Aaron Gliner


BISMARCK, N.D. – The North Dakota Department of Transportation (NDDOT) announced today that the agency has received a four-year waiver from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to operate Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) over people.

This is the first time a North Dakota state agency has received a waiver to routinely conduct UAS operations over people using a drone – in this case a DJI Mavic 2 series equipped with a ParaZero SafeAir parachute recovery system. FAA approved the waiver and UAS operations over people as part of North Dakota’s (UAS) Integration Pilot Program (IPP) which is designed to help FAA create new regulations that will enable the safe and secure integration of UAS (drones) into the national airspace systems.

NDDOT and Northern Plains UAS Test Site (NPUASTS) are working together with partners and stakeholders to accomplish North Dakota’s UAS pilot program mission to provide operational efficiencies, create new opportunities, build industry to grow the economy, and reduce traffic fatalities and serious injuries.

“The UAS Integration Pilot Program, through a variety of demonstrations, is paying dividends on the investment to safely integrate UAS into the national airspace system,” said FAA Acting Administrator Dan Elwell.   “Through NDDOT’s pilot program, we are getting valuable data to create regulations, policy and guidance that ensures safety while enabling innovation.”

“NDDOT is excited to work with Northern Plains UAS Test Site and one of our program partners, ParaZero, to advance research focusing on safe operations of Unmanned Aircraft Systems,” says Russ Buchholz, UAS Integration Program Administrator at NDDOT. “We are testing UAS systems and looking at how we can have safe operations that are repeatable and scalable in different types of situations.”

“Safety is a critical aspect in increasing UAS’ legal flight envelope. We are honored that NDDOT is the first to secure a waiver for flight over people with our new ASTM F3322 compliant SafeAir Mavic,” says Avi Lozowick, Vice President of Policy and Strategy at ParaZero.

North Dakota’s UAS Integration Pilot Program gives state, local and tribal governments a chance to establish innovation zones for testing complex UAS operations.

“The collaboration between the NDDOT and the NPUASTS brings two innovative organizations together that can best serve the State of North Dakota’s UAS interests, provide an environment for industry to achieve their goals, and support the FAA with UAS integration initiatives,” says Trevor Woods, Director of Safety at the Northern Plains UAS Test Site.

The State of North Dakota is a leader in transportation and UAS advancement. The UAS Integration Pilot Program technology will enhance North Dakota in many areas such as pipeline or infrastructure inspections, traffic crash reconstruction, and emergency response during a life-threatening event in rural areas, such as finding a missing person in the Badlands or on lakes and rivers.


To learn more about the ParaZero ASTM Professional Kit click here.

To purchase the SafeAir Phantom + ASTM Professional Kit that was used in the recently granted waivers, click here.