Frequently Asked Questions
Yamaha RMAX Remotely Piloted Helicopter
In May 2015, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) authorized Yamaha to operate the remotely piloted RMAX helicopter for agricultural‐related uses in the U.S. Specifically, the FAA issued a Grant of Exemption for the RMAX under Section 333 of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act (FMRA).
This grant of exemption authorizes the use of RMAX for commercial agricultural operations based on the merit of Yamaha’s petition, which included exhaustive documentation surrounding operational guidelines and restrictions, training requirements and the RMAX track record of safety over 20 years of international operation and over 2 million hours in flight.
In December 2015 Yamaha received Part 137 Agricultural Aircraft Operations Certification from the FAA, the first for an unmanned aerial system (UAS). The certification enables Yamaha to begin agricultural spraying in the U.S., subject to approval by state and local authorities in areas where the RMAX remotely piloted helicopters will be used. Within the U.S. agricultural research community, Yamaha has collaborated with University of California, Davis, since 2012 to extensively research, evaluate and validate the application of RMAX for specialized agricultural spraying.
The following Frequently Asked Questions are intended to provide clarification on how RMAX will be operated within agricultural settings and Yamaha’s commitment to ensuring RMAX is used safely and responsibly for the protection of all stakeholders in the ag community, especially aerial applicators.
What is the history of use for RMAX on agricultural operations?
The RMAX has been in service since 1997 and has logged more than 2 million flight hours treating agricultural acres. Today, there are 2,500 RMAX units in operation worldwide. Internationally, more than 2.4 million agricultural acres are sprayed annually by Yamaha RMAX helicopters. RMAX has been used for agricultural spraying with many crops including rice, wheat, soybeans and vegetables.
What services is RMAX capable of providing?
The RMAX is capable of providing essential agricultural spraying services including fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides. The RMAX can also be equipped with sensors and equipment to detect and monitor crops that require irrigation, fertilization and other treatments.
How does Yamaha intend to deploy the RMAX for use in U.S. agriculture?
RMAX is very well‐suited for use on U.S. vineyards. Yamaha has partnered with UC Davis and Dr. Ken Giles since 2012 for research purposes as well as the trial and demonstration use of RMAX, primarily at the Oakville Experimental Vineyard‐UC Davis. Yamaha initially plans to make commercial RMAX spraying services available for vineyards in California and the Pacific Northwest.
Who will be authorized to remotely pilot the RMAX?
RMAX will only be operated by an experienced Yamaha crew who hold the necessary requirements established by the FAA and State agencies and have completed Yamaha’s comprehensive RMAX pilot training and certification requirements. This training includes a UAS training course including theory and practical components, a pilot theory exam, supervised flight training and continued periodic training after initial certification.
How many people will be required to operate an RMAX flight?
Each operation and flight of the RMAX will require two individuals—one pilot‐in‐command (PIC) and one visual observer (VO)—who have both completed the Yamaha RMAX training and certification program. The PIC will operate the RMAX via remote control transmitter. The RMAX is operated within the visual line of sight of the PIC at all times. The VO is required to observe the RMAX from the opposite side of the area being treated. The VO ensures the RMAX is always within line of sight and helps identify and alert the PIC to any potential obstacles on the ground or in the air. The PIC and VO are in constant radio communication with one another.
How is the RMAX operated?
The RMAX is remotely controlled by a PIC using a 72 MHz transmitter. In addition, each helicopter is equipped with an advanced Yamaha Attitude Control System (YACS) and GPS offering stability and controllability, making it reliable while improving precision and flight control.
What is the RMAX safety record?
RMAX has an exemplary safety record. Yamaha Motor Company is widely recognized as a leader in the motorsports industry for its advocacy and promotion of safe, responsible use of motorized vehicles and has a proven record of safety education and training initiatives. That focus on safety, compliance and responsible use will extend to the use of RMAX within agricultural operations.
What safety systems is the RMAX equipped with?
RMAX has a host of on‐board safety systems, including a self‐monitor function that performs system diagnostics before takeoff; a Yamaha Attitude Control System (YACS); a GPS flight control system; a lost radio communication safety default mechanism (lost link hover and land); YACS and GPS warning/indicator lights, speed indicator light and rotor brake system.
What provisions are in place to ensure RMAX does not present a safety risk to aerial applicators?
In addition to the RMAX on‐board safety systems and the operation of RMAX by a trained, certified PIC with the aid of a trained VO, the FAA has granted this exemption with the understanding RMAX operations will always be conducted within visual line of sight of the PIC, a Notice to Airman (NOTM) will be issued for all operations at least 24 hours in advance, and RMAX pilots will always yield right‐of‐way to manned aircraft.
How does the use of RMAX for spraying benefit growers, farm workers and the agricultural industry?
RMAX offers several benefits including safe and reliable application of treatments and no soil compaction or crop damage compared to the use of wheeled spray applications. The RMAX has also proven to be faster and more efficient than current ground spray applications (both wheeled and foot). It also provides growers with more flexibility and accessibility to their fields, giving them another option for applications.
Is Yamaha’s intent to displace the use of traditional application methods with RMAX?
No. RMAX is a new option that Yamaha believes will complement traditional methods for treating agricultural crops with essential inputs. Ground and aerial application via manned vehicles remain essential services to the agriculture industry. RMAX simply represents an additional tool that can be advantageous to aerial applicators, growers, farm workers and communities in specific situations.
How can pilots learn about the RMAX training and certification program?
At this time we do not have a training curriculum established in the U.S., but we plan to do so in the future. Currently, all RMAX‐certified pilots go through the training curriculum in either Japan, South Korea or Australia.
Is RMAX available for purchase by certified pilots or aerial applicators?
The 333 Exemption issued by the FAA pertains to only Yamaha; therefore Yamaha is the only authorized operator of the RMAX in the U.S. Yamaha will offer a service to interested growers; however, in the future we also plan to offer a lease option to growers/businesses that have the proper licenses and qualifications. Yamaha does not intend to sell the aircraft now nor in the future.
Where can I get more information about the RMAX?
For more information about RMAX or its use for agricultural spraying services in the U.S., visit YamahaPrecisionAgriculture.com or email ums_sales@yamaha‐motor.com.