NAAA Cautions Hobbyist and Professional UAS Operators to be Mindful of Low-Flying Agricultural Aircraft this Growing Season
For Immediate Release
Contact: Frank Taylor
Phone: (202) 546-5722
“With the proliferation of Unmanned Aircraft Systems over the last few years, it is critical for UAS operators to be aware of agricultural aircraft,” said Andrew Moore, executive director of NAAA. “It is extremely difficult, if not impossible, for manned aircraft to see UAS while conducting labor-intensive aerial applications 10 feet off the ground at speeds as fast as 140 mph. We encourage both professional and hobbyist UAS operators to keep this in mind to ensure a safe 2019 growing season.”
While aerial applications are already underway in many parts of the country, operations nationwide will peak during the summer months. NAAA previously profiled an agricultural aviator who had multiple near-misses with UAS during the 2018 growing season. Additionally, a UAS collided with an agricultural aircraft in Israel last August, the first such recorded incident of its kind.
NAAA recommends UAS operators:
- Equip drones with tracking technology, such as ADS-B, so other similarly equipped aircraft can ascertain their positions.
- Get certified and well-trained in operating a UAV.
- Contact local agricultural aviation operations before flying by consulting AgAviation.org/findapplicator.
- Equip UAVs with visible strobe lights.
- Always give the right-of-way to a manned aircraft. It’s the law.
- Land your UAV immediately when a low-altitude manned aircraft is nearby.
- Carry UAV liability insurance.
When birds hit an ag aircraft, they can break through an aircraft’s windshield causing deadly accidents. A study conducted by the Alliance for System Safety of UAS through Research Excellence (ASSURE) showed UAV collisions with aircraft cause more damage than would a bird strike of similar size, due partially to UAVs’ dense motors and batteries, as opposed to a bird made mostly of water, feathers, hollow bones and sinew.
According to the FAA’s website, reports of UAS sightings have increased dramatically over the past two years, with the FAA now receiving over 100 such reports a month. Unauthorized operators may be subject to stiff fines and criminal charges, including possible jail time. The 2018 FAA Reauthorization Bill gives the FAA the authority to require UAV hobbyists to take an aeronautical knowledge and safety test, as well as register their aircraft with the FAA..
So, while we’re all enjoying safe, affordable and abundant food, fiber and biofuel, don’t forget our nation’s agricultural aviators are working in the skies to help farmers produce it and also flying fire-control and public health missisons. If you’re going to fly a UAV this summer, please be responsible and do everything you can to avoid agricultural aircraft. Learn more at AgAviation.org, Thinkbeforeyoulaunch.com and Knowbeforeyoufly.org.
The National Agricultural Aviation Association (NAAA) represents more than 1,900 members in 46 states. NAAA supports the interests of small business owners and pilots licensed as professional commercial aerial applicators that use aircraft to enhance food, fiber and biofuel production, protect forestry and control health-threatening pests.