Crop-spraying drone approved

  • 03/09/2015
Transport Minister Simon Bridges
Transport Minister Simon Bridges

An unmanned crop-spraying helicopter has become the first drone to be approved for commercial work under new aviation rules.

The Yamaha Rmax, reportedly costing $120,000, on Thursday received the Civil Aviation Authority's first certification to be used as a commercial unmanned aerial vehicle.

Before August 1, the old rules meant it could not have been used because of its weight (at nearly 100kg) and the intention to use chemicals.

Transport Minister Simon Bridges says the new rules, described by some as too restrictive by some enthusiasts, opened up a huge range of commercial possibilities.

"This innovative technology could help farmers achieve cost savings and also improve safety," he said.

The Rmax, which is powered by a 250cc two-stroke engine, can carry 16 litres of chemicals or 26 litres of granular pellets in hoppers.

Yamaha says it can fly for up to an hour, up to 50m high and 150m from the pilot and at a top speed of 40km/h.

The government says it hopes to such drones are used not only in agriculture but firefighting, film and video production, search and rescue and scientific research.