A trade group representing the unmanned aerial vehicle industry this week said Yamaha's request to commercially use UAV systems prior to the Federal Aviation Administration's approval of a final rule on the issue should be "promptly granted."
Currently, the FAA does not allow commercial UAS flights, but is reviewing ways to integrate the unmanned aircraft systems into public airspace.
Yamaha is one of 14 companies that has sought permission to fly UAS commercially, PC World reported last week, looking for approval to fly its RMAX remote-controlled helicopter for agricultural applications like spraying, seeding and remote sensing.
Currently, Yamaha is working with UC Davis to research the effectiveness of RMAX to spray vineyards in California, operating under an FAA Certificate of Authorization, says the UAS trade group, Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International.
"There are more than 2,600 RMAX helicopters that have been successfully and safely operated in Japan, Australia and South Korea for more than 20 years, which have logged more than 2 million flight hours without anyone being injured," AUVSI says. "In Japan alone, the RMAX treats more than 2.4 million acres of farmland each year."
AUVSI submitted comments to FAA in favor of an exemption to the FAA's rules against commercial UAS flights earlier this year. It suggests the administration look for ways to allow for more commercial use of very small UAS immediately, and continue with rulemaking.
The group says use of small unmanned aircraft systems for precision agriculture will save time, money, and possibly lives, by not jeopardizing a human in a manned aircraft.
Providing some exemptions
In an effort to accelerate the commercial use of UAS, the FAA announced in May that it would consider granting exemptions for certain low-risk commercial UAS applications that would allow some industries to fly before the finalization of the small UAS rule.
AUVSI says this action in accelerating commercial UAS use will not only help businesses "harness the tremendous potential of UAS, it will also help unlock the economic impact and job creation potential of the technology."
AUVSI is supportive of FAA's move to consider exemption requests, though it says FAA's three-year delay in issuing safety regulations for the widespread commercial use of small UAS is concerning.
The group, along with 32 other association representing the manned aviation community, air traffic controllers, and future users of UAS, including agriculture groups, realtors, media organizations, and public safety organizations, sent a letter to the FAA earlier this year encouraging the administration to grant exemptions, but also to expedite the public notice and comment for small UAS rulemaking.