2021-2022 Program Summary

The 2021-2022 PAASS program will once again deliver high-quality pesticide application education developed specifically for aerial applicators. PAASS has been acknowledged by the U.S. EPA and the Association of American Pesticide Control Officials (AAPCO). PAASS was also presented to Canadian aerial applicators in 2021, further recognizing the quality of both the program itself and the results it delivers. PAASS will be the normal four hours in length and focus on reducing drift incidents and agricultural aviation accidents and securing agricultural aviation operations. Time will be allowed during the program for attendee discussions and sharing of experiences involving issues and practices related to their own operations. PAASS will begin with a review and analysis of agricultural aviation accidents that occurred during the 2021 application season. Studying accidents enables attendees to learn from other pilots’ experiences and increase safety.
 
PAASS will cover content developed by Dr. Brad Fritz from the USDA ARS Aerial Application Technology Research Unit (AATRU) on the relationships between spray droplet size and the spray pattern (uniformity of droplets and width of each aircraft’s application across the field). Spray droplet size has a critical impact on both the efficacy of the application and the potential for drift. The spray Droplet Size Models developed by AATRU allow aerial applicators to select a nozzle type, orifice size, operating pressure, and deflection angle to achieve both the spray application rate and spray droplet size as dictated by the label. Dr. Fritz’s research looks at how spray droplet size is distributed across the entire spray pattern of an agricultural aircraft, and how in-wind versus crosswind impacts that droplet size distribution. A crosswind can result in an aircraft’s spray pattern having a greater proportion of larger droplets deposited on the windward portion of the aircraft’s spray pattern and a greater proportion of smaller droplets being deposited on the leeward side of the spray pattern, as opposed to a more uniform distribution of sizes across the whole pattern when the aircraft is flown in-wind. 
 
The 2021-2022 PAASS program also covers inadvertent instrument meteorological conditions, or IIMC. Instrument meteorological conditions are those weather conditions with low visibility, particularly fog, that require use of cockpit instruments for safe flying. Inadvertently flying into these instrument conditions occurs when a pilot, not rated or equipped to fly with instruments, finds himself flying from clear weather conditions into non-visible conditions requiring instruments.  From 2011 to 2020 there were a total of six agricultural aviation IIMC accidents, five of which were fatal. IIMC results in a degraded visual environment followed by spatial disorientation, which likely leads to an accident. Fog can be an indicator that an inversion exists and avoiding applications during an inversion is a key factor in drift mitigation. The best strategy for IIMC is to avoid flying in such conditions and PAASS will go over the factors that aerial applicators need to consider before taking off. PAASS attendees will hear from several fellow agricultural aviators who survived IIMC encounters and learn first-hand from their incidents.
 
The 2021-2022 PAASS program will conclude with a real-life security example where property was stolen from an aerial application business. Participants will hear from the owner and learn how to better secure their operations to prevent pesticide theft and vandalism.  There will also be a short segment on using a gate seal to improve dry application accuracy and a question-and-answer session that will test attendees on their aerial pesticide application knowledge.