Aerial Application - National Agricultural Aviation Association

Aerial Application
A Vital Component
of Production Agriculture
Ag Aviation History
• 1921 – Lt. John Macready made the world’s first
aerial application spreading lead arsenate dust over
catalpa trees in Ohio to kill sphinx moth larvae using
a Modified Curtiss JN-6 “Super Jenny”
• 1923 – Huff-Daland Dusters,
Inc. – the forerunner to Delta
Air Lines – performs the first
commercial dusting of crops
• 1930s and ‘40s – Open-cockpit Stearman
biplanes used to spray crops
Ag Aviation History
• 1951 – Leland Snow begins
designing his first ag airplane –
the S-1
• 1957 – The Grumman G-164
Ag-Cat is the first aircraft
designed by a major aircraft company for ag aviation
• 1966 – The National Agricultural Aviation
Association (NAAA) is founded in Washington, D.C.
to be the “recognized public policy advocate for the
agricultural aviation industry.”
• Aerial application accounts for just under 20% of
all applied crop protection products on commercial
• The industry also provides
firefighting and public health
application services
• According to a 2012 NAAA survey, the five most
common aerially treated crops are: corn,
wheat/barley, soybeans, pastures/rangelands and
alfalfa, but aerial application is used on many
more crops grown in the U.S.
• Aerial application is often the only, or most
economic, method for timely pesticide
– By far the fastest method of application to treat crops
– Non-disruptive to the crop, hence preventing crop
damage and soil runoff
– Allows for greater harvest yields of crops, resulting in
preservation of natural ecosystems such as wetlands
and forests important for water filtration and carbon
Fast! Efficient! Effective!
Fast! Efficient! Effective!
Fast! Efficient! Effective!
• Approximately 1,350 aerial application
businesses in the U.S. and 1,430 non-operator
• 94% of aerial application business owners
(operators) are also pilots
• Aerial application businesses are located in 44
states – all but Connecticut, Hawaii, Nevada,
Rhode Island, Vermont and West Virginia
• According to a USDA Economic Research
Service Report, of the United States’ 408 million
acres of cropland, about 70% (286 million acres)
is commercially treated with crop protection
• The agricultural aviation industry treats 71
million acres of cropland aerially each year
Ag Aircraft
• On average, each aerial
application business has
2.1 aircraft, ranging in price
from $100,000 to $1.4 million
• 87% are fixed wing; 13%
are rotorcraft/helicopters
• 67% are turbine powered; 33% have piston
• The average aerial applicator pilot has 21.3 years of
experience and the average operator has 27.4 years
of experience in the industry
• Ag pilots have their commercial pilots’ licenses and
must also be registered as commercial pesticide
applicators in the states which they make
• Aerial applicators must hold the Federal Aviation
Administration Part 137 Certificate that allows for
low-level agricultural aviation operations
Precision Agriculture
• Today’s ag aircraft use sophisticated
precision application equipment such as:
– GPS (global positioning systems)
– GIS (geographical information systems)
– Aircraft Integrated Meteorological Measurement
System (AIMMS)--real time meteorological systems
– Flow control valves for variable-rate applications
– Single-boom shutoff valves
– Smokers to identify wind speed and direction
Precision Agriculture
• Precisely calibrated spray
equipment enables less
pesticide product to be
applied to more acres,
resulting in greater fuel
efficiency and a more
targeted delivery
Spray Drift Mitigation
• NAAA developed the
Professional Aerial
Applicators’ Support System (PAASS) to provide
pilots continuing education about safety, security
and drift mitigation
• PAASS program receives EPA support and reaches
approximately 2,000 aerial applicators annually
• Since 1998 when PAASS first hit the stage, aerial
drift incidents have decreased 26%; ag aviation
accidents have decreased 20.63% per 100,000
hours flown.
Spray Drift Mitigation
• NAAA’s Operation S.A.F.E.
(Self-regulating Application &
Flight Efficiency) program enables
aerial applicators to attend fly-in
clinics and have their aircraft
professionally analyzed for spray
pattern uniformity and droplet size.
This minimizes drift and maximizes
the efficacy of the application.
Ag Aviation Priority Issues
• Obstacles
– In the last 10 years, 7.2%
of aerial application
fatalities were the result
of collisions with towers
– NAAA is urging the FAA
to expand recommendations for marking obstacles
(towers and UAS’) to protect aerial applicators. These
include recommendations to mark and light all UAS’
and guy-wired and free-standing towers over 50 ft;
and to develop a searchable database for the location
of such towers and operating UAS’.
Ag Aviation Priority Issues
• Fund Aerial Application Technology
– Federal funding for aerial
application research must be
maintained, as it improves the
precision and efficacy of aerial
– USDA economists have found that every dollar
invested in ag research has a $20 return to the
Ag Aviation Priority Issues
• NPDES Permits
– NAAA is lobbying Congress to exempt
duplicative, unnecessary and burdensome
NPDES permits for pesticide applications;
current federal law (FIFRA) already regulates
the safety of pesticide to water
Ag Aviation Priority Issues
• Taxes and User Fees
– The majority of ag aircraft do not use public airports
and rarely show up on the nation’s air traffic control
– Despite the Obama administration’s push for a $100
user fee, current exemption for ag aviation from
federal aviation fuel excise taxes and user fees must
be maintained
Voice of the Aerial Application Industry
1440 Duke Street  Alexandria, VA 22314
(202) 546-5722  (202) 546-5726 (FAX)

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