This is the RMUS HDPD with the z30 zoom camera and a drop system that can drop a life preserver.

RMUS on KSL News

February 25, 2016

SALT LAKE CITY — Legislation regulating unmanned aerial vehicles descended on the state Capitol on Thursday. One bill advanced, one hovered but didn't go anywhere and at least two more await takeoff.

Sen. Wayne Harper, R-Taylorsville, grounded his own bill after drone industry experts, a state economic development official and a government watchdog group pointed out its flaws.

"We don't need more laws to regulate drones," John McDonald, an airplane pilot and drone operator, told the Senate Transportation and Public Utilities and Technology Committee.

The Federal Aviation Administration and state law already cover what Harper is proposing, he said.

SB210 aimed to restrict recreational drone use during emergencies, wildfires and large gatherings, including allowing police to "neutralize" unmanned aerial vehicles in certain situations. It also would set criminal penalties for trespassing and voyeurism.

Harper acknowledged "confusion" in the bill before deciding not to move it forward.

"This legislation is deeply troubling to me," said Sen. Alvin Jackson, R-Highland, the committee chairman. He said the bill sends the wrong message to Utah's budding drone industry.

Back at the offices of Rocky Mountain Unmanned Systems, there was a sense of relief as news came that Harper's bill wouldn't go forward. The company's staff — which has been growing steadily ever since doors opened a year and a half ago — were busy readying a number of drones, cameras and control panels for the Legislature's Aerospace Day on Friday.

"We started with just one technician. Now we're up to five," sales manager Ryan Wood said.

The company, partnered with Flir thermal imaging, sells and builds large, specialized drones. The heavy-duty crafts are finding increasing use in construction and inspection fields, search and rescue, law enforcement, and odd niche purposes Wood said he never imagined, such as tracking feral hogs.

"It's amazing what these things can do and how versatile they are," said Wood, who is a member of the Mountain West Unmanned Systems Alliance. "The demand is huge. It's been a challenge to keep up with."

When most people think of drones, they think of smaller hobby crafts, not the commercial machines, Wood said.

Similar sentiments were expressed on the Hill by other members of the alliance.

David Terry, CEO of SilverHawk Aerial Imaging, told the committee Harper's bill would "dampen" his ability to stay in business. He said it would be difficult to understand airspace restrictions from city to city.

Terry also questioned the police's ability to shoot down a drone because they wouldn't be able to tell the difference between a hobbyist and commercial operator registered with the FAA. He said it would set off a chain of complicated events, including a National Transportation Safety Board investigation.

Utah Valley University professor Robert Trim said the school would have to abandon its civil aviation program if the legislation passed. He said it attempts to redefine what is already a patchwork of laws that are difficult to navigate and that FAA regulations are already more stringent.

Trim said he's working on a curriculum for unmanned aerial vehicles, an industry Utah is well positioned to get into. Starting pay for lead pilots is $96,000, he said.

Ben Hart, a managing director in the Governor's Office of Economic Development, told the committee he is concerned about the "optics" of the bill. He said the office is "sensitive" to legislation that would hurt an industry the state is trying to build up.

"It's important that we get this right," he said.

Connor Boyack, president of the Libertas Institute, said he's more interested in privacy issues surrounding drones. Harper's bill, he said, focuses more technology rather than the activity.

The proposal would prohibit flying an unmanned aerial vehicle over private property or over an event having more than 500 people. Boyack noted Utah is a one-party recording state, meaning someone doesn't need consent to record a phone call or set up a camera.

The bill treats drones differently than other video or audio recording devices such as cellphones, he said, adding that shouldn't be the case just because a person could send something up in the air.

Governor’s Office of Economic Development, Local Organizations Partner to Form Mountain West Unmanned Systems Alliance

SALT LAKE CITY, UT—The Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Development, in cooperation with Rocky Mountain Unmanned Systems, Utah Valley University and the Utah Film Commission, have united to form the Mountain West Unmanned Systems Alliance (MWUSA).

The organization’s main goal is to establish Utah as a viable hub for commercial use of unmanned aerial systems, or “drones.”

“We want to make the State of Utah the example of responsible commercial use of unmanned aerial systems,” said Ryan Wood, Marketing Manager of Rocky Mountain Unmanned Systems and President of the MWUSA. “There are so many applications for these vehicles that can have an immediate impact on the local economy and public safety in general.”

On February 15, the FAA released a “Notice of Proposed Rule Making” (NPRM) to change the current FAA rules and regulations to allow commercial operations for small Unmanned Aerial Systems (sUAS) under 55 pounds. This long anticipated NPRM for sUAS is a major shift in the FAA’s present policy on unmanned aerial systems, which prevents commercial use of unmanned aerial systems in all but a few specific instances.

When the proposed rules go into effect, the FAA will allow licensed unmanned aerial systems operators to conduct commercial flights with vehicles under 55 pounds as long as several guidelines are followed, such as a observing a flight ceiling of 500 feet above ground level (AGL) and keeping the vehicle within the operator’s line of sight.

According to Forbes magazine, the Unmanned Aerial Systems industry will have a $13.6 billion economic impact within three years of adoption of the proposed FAA rules. A large amount of that impact will be to the benefit of entrepreneurs and small business owners.

The Mountain West Unmanned Systems Alliance membership is comprised of the Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED), the Utah Film Commission, Rocky Mountain Unmanned Systems, Utah Valley University and several local film and video production companies.

MWUSA board member Marshall Wright, of GOED, said that MWUSA is currently reaching out to qualified local public agencies, educational instructions and private companies for membership opportunities to the MWUSA.

“With the number of potential commercial and public safety applications of unmanned aerial systems, there are so many businesses and organizations that can benefit. We’re excited to be at the forefront of this upcoming industry,” said Wright.

Qualified entities interested in MWUSA membership may reach out to Ryan Wood of Rocky Mountain Unmanned Systems at

About Mountain West Unmanned Systems Alliance (MWUSA)
Mountain West Unmanned Systems Alliance (MWUSA) is a partnership with the Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED), the Utah Film Commission, Rocky Mountain Unmanned Systems, Utah Valley University, and key industry stakeholders. The goal of MWUSA is to help coordinate efforts to establish Utah as a viable hub for UAS industries, resulting in high end job growth, increased and enhanced research opportunities for higher education, and sustained economic impact. It will also support significant research, development, testing and training in the various disciplines associated with unmanned aerial systems in particular and unmanned systems in general.
About the Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED)
The Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED) charter is based on Governor Gary Herbert’s commitment to economic development statewide. Utah’s economic development vision is that Utah will lead the nation as the best performing economy and be recognized as a premier global business destination. The mandate for this office is to provide rich business resources for the creation, growth and recruitment of companies to Utah and to increase tourism and film production in the state. GOED accomplishes this mission through the administration of programs that are based around targeted industries or “economic clusters” that demonstrate the best potential for development. GOED utilizes state resources and private sector contracts to fulfill its mission. For more information on GOED’s aerospace and defense cluster, please contact: Marshall Wright, 801-538-8710, or

Here is the new proposals set up by the FAA for small Unmanned Aerial Systems. Lots of detail, but good regulations we all need.

Operational Limitations
• Unmanned aircraft must weigh less than 55 lbs. (25 kg).
• Visual line-of-sight (VLOS) only; the unmanned aircraft must remain within VLOS of the operator or visual observer.
• At all times the small unmanned aircraft must remain close enough to the operator for the operator to be capable of seeing the aircraft with vision unaided by any device other than corrective lenses.
• Small unmanned aircraft may not operate over any persons not directly involved in the operation.
• Daylight-only operations (official sunrise to official sunset, local time).
• Must yield right-of-way to other aircraft, manned or unmanned.
• May use visual observer (VO) but not required.
• First-person view camera cannot satisfy “see-and-avoid” requirement but can be used as long as requirement is satisfied in other ways.
• Maximum airspeed of 100 mph (87 knots).
• Maximum altitude of 500 feet above ground level.
• Minimum weather visibility of 3 miles from control station.
• No operations are allowed in Class A (18,000 feet & above) airspace.
• Operations in Class B, C, D and E airspace are allowed with the required ATC permission.
• Operations in Class G airspace are allowed without ATC permission
• No person may act as an operator or VO for more than one unmanned aircraft operation at one time.
• No careless or reckless operations.
• Requires preflight inspection by the operator.
• A person may not operate a small unmanned aircraft if he or she knows or has reason to know of any physical or mental condition that would interfere with the safe operation of a small UAS.
• Proposes a microUAS option that would allow operations in Class G airspace, over people not involved in the operation, provided the operator certifies he or she has the requisite aeronautical knowledge to perform the operation.

Operator Certification adn Responsibilities
• Pilots of a small UAS would be considered “operators”.
• Operators would be required to:
Pass an initial aeronautical knowledge test at an FAA-approved knowledge testing center.
* Be vetted by the Transportation Security Administration.
• Pilots of a small UAS would be considered “operators”.
• Operators would be required to:
* Pass an initial aeronautical knowledge test at an FAA-approved knowledge testing center.
* Be vetted by the Transportation Security Administration.
* Obtain an unmanned aircraft operator certificate with a small UAS rating (like existing pilot airman certificates, never expires).
* Pass a recurrent aeronautical knowledge test every 24 months.
* Be at least 17 years old.
* Make available to the FAA, upon request, the small UAS for inspection or testing, and any associated documents/records required to be kept under the proposed rule.
* Report an accident to the FAA within 10 days of any operation that results in injury or property damage.
* Conduct a preflight inspection, to include specific aircraft and control station systems checks, to ensure the small UAS is safe for operation.
• FAA airworthiness certification not required. However, operator must maintain a small UAS in condition for safe operation and prior to flight must inspect the UAS to ensure that it is in a condition for safe operation. Aircraft Registration required (same requirements that apply to all other aircraft).
• Aircraft markings required (same requirements that apply to all other aircraft). If aircraft is too small to display markings in standard size, then the aircraft simply needs to display markings in the largest practicable manner.
• Proposed rule would not apply to model aircraft that satisfy all of the criteria specified in Section 336 of Public Law 112-95.
• The proposed rule would codify the FAA’s enforcement authority in part 101 by prohibiting model aircraft operators from endangering the safety of the NAS.

Drones have something of a sinister reputation—How many is Obama watching us with right now? What if a CIA drone crashes into the drone carrying my new toaster?—but hey, wouldn’t it be fun to have your own? Ryan Wood and Jon McBride (pictured) of Rocky Mountain Unmanned Systems hope so; the West Valley company (2034 S. 3850 West, opened just a few months ago and carries a variety of personal Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) to help companies with difficult jobs as well as provide the public with the ability to fly unmanned drones and take professional-quality photography using UAV cameras.


What can people do with their own Unmanned Aerial Vehicles?
Right now, it’s kind of a new concept, but we do have a few high-end buyers. We are hoping to partner with the governor’s office as well as local police and fire departments, search & rescue, even the Utah Avalanche Center. We think it could be really beneficial to them. These can carry different cameras, like infrared for search & rescue, which can see someone from almost a mile away. Our motto is that it would be great for the three Ds: deadly, dirty and dangerous jobs. But right now, it’s mostly hobbyists buying the smaller models.


What laws and regulations are there for drone use?
There’s nothing that says you cannot operate any of this equipment. There are basic guidelines to keep us out of the airspace of real planes, so it tends to be that you can’t fly over 400 feet or fly these within five miles of an airport. The FAA says that you can’t fly over the Super Bowl or anything like that. The FAA will be making a ruling specific to UAVs soon just because there’s so much technology out there and it’s so accessible.


How difficult are drones to operate?
Anyone can fly one of these. There’s not much of a difference between these and remote-controlled airplanes except that these are more advanced, have better technology and better flight systems. These have been so easy to operate; they can be GPS guided with waypoints where you don’t even have to control them directly. The DJI Phantom 2 Vision Plus is the most popular model in the UAV industry, and it’s relatively easy to operate and assemble out of the box.


Why should people buy from Rocky Mountain Unmanned Systems when the Internet is full of drone dealers?
The best thing we offer is great customer service and the knowledge we have about these products. A lot of time you go in to a hobby store and say, “I hope this is what I need,” unless you really know the hobby. With us, you can come in off the street and get a full tutorial. Flying it for the first time can be kind of intimidating, especially if you just spent $1,200, so we help with that as well. If you buy online from a manufacturer, then you will more than likely have to assemble it, and that can be pretty difficult. Calibrating the UAV is also tough; we’ll help you get it set up and ready to fly rather than having you just go into it on your own.


What does RMUS have coming up?
We sell, repair and do custom builds, but we’d like to bring in some new and unique products. We don’t have a 3-D printer yet, but that might be in the works. Through our parent company, HRP Distributing, we just became the exclusive retailer of Thunder Tiger Robotix products, which has been around for 30 years. We feel that brand is going grow. They have the technology, the factories and the capability to really take it to the next level. We hope that Thunder Tiger’s Ghost quad copter will be the DJI Phantom killer and take over that market. We expect it to be one of the best UAVs out there. HRP Distributing is also imagining similar retail stores like ours in our other warehouses in Florida and Pennsylvania. And of course we are still working on our online storefront, too.