Three issues affecting the aerial application industry’s future emerged in the mid-1990s: new and improved aerial application technologies; expanding urban encroachment of rural farmlands; and a demand by the general public for “a risk free environment, including safer, more environmentally friendly” crop protection products. Industry leaders seized the opportunity to shape their own future and, in 1996, established the PAASS program to overcome these challenges. The Louisiana AAA hosted the first presentation in January 1998.
Given a choice, most people will choose self-education over government regulation. NAAA and NAAREF pioneered this voluntary educational program—PAASS—and attracted supporters from all segments of related industries and levels of government. The National Coalition On Drift Minimization agreed to endorse industry training efforts that focus on reducing drift. EPA officials prefer educational programs in lieu of regulations to minimize drift, but have stipulated that the industry must be able to demonstrate the effectiveness of these programs. Rather than imposing additional regulations the FAA, with its ten-year goal to reduce aviation fatalities by eighty percent in 2007, developed a partnership with the NAAA to meet this objective through the PAASS program.
Industry professionals recognized that the pilot is the common link between accidents and drift incidents. This concept is key to understanding PAASS. So the program was designed as a pilot support system to provide educational opportunities aimed at improving aeronautical decision making skills. However, for PAASS to become a meaningful, flexible, in-the-field support system, everyone must participate. All interest groups—Operators and Pilots, Insurance and Service Providers, Aircraft and Equipment Manufacturers, Federal and State Agencies, Chemical Companies, Academic Institutions, and State Agricultural Aviation Associations—must be involved.