By Staff Writer | April 1, 2007
Three executives of the Sky Div. of Yamaha Motor Co. in Japan were arrested in late February for selling remote-controlled helicopters to China. The helicopters may only be operated in the line of sight of an operator, who must be within 500-650 ft (150-200 m) and were developed for crop-dusting purposes, said Russell Jura, senior vice president and general counsel for Yamaha Motor Corp America. The small helicopters can carry up to 6.3 gal (24 l) of pesticide used for crop dusting. The helicopter may have a camera attached to it and be used for surveying or mapping.
Jura said Japanese law prohibits remote-controlled objects of this type because they could be used to spread weapons of mass destruction. In the United States, certain items may not be sold to China without presidential approval, said Jura. Japanese law says the helicopter must be autonomous and able to fly on its own, he said.