Local Organizations Partner to Form Mountain West Unmanned Systems Alliance

Pete CodellaNews

Rocky Mountain Unmanned Systems, in cooperation with the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, 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 marketing@rmuva.com.