2022-2023 Program Summary

The 2022-2023 PAASS program will focus on the main goals of PAASS – to reduce agricultural aviation accidents and improve the industry’s environmental professionalism. PAASS has been acknowledged by the U.S. EPA, FAA and the Association of American Pesticide Control Officials (AAPCO) and is also presented in Canada. PAASS will be four hours in length and 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 2022 application season. 
The 2022-2023 PAASS program will then move to education aimed at reducing wire strike accidents. Over the five-year period from 2017 to 2021, there have been 51 wire strike accidents involving agricultural aircraft. These wire strike accidents represent 16% of these total agricultural aviation accidents and 24% of the fatal accidents during the five years. PAASS will teach participants about vision science and why it is often difficult, if not impossible, to see the actual wires during an application. Because of this, wires need to be treated as an invisible hazard. Agricultural aviators will learn how to identify support structure and hardware to determine the location of wires. It is critical that situational awareness is maintained at all times while working the wire environment, and that pilots know how to react correctly in their situation. From 2017 to 2021, in 61% of the wire strike accidents for which is could be determined the pilots were aware of the wire they struck. PAASS will therefore train pilots how to keep wires and other obstacles in the forefront of their mind so they do not forget about or lose track of them. Classroom and cockpit instruction from an agricultural aviation school will provide additional lessons on how to scout for wires and apply safely around them. Reducing wire strike accidents will save lives and reduce potential spills associated with agricultural aircraft accidents.
The environmental professional program will discuss the use of large spray droplets for reducing the risk of drift while also maintaining efficacy. PAASS will focus on an operator who is successfully making applications using a droplet size larger then commonly used in the aerial application industry. There are several ways that an agricultural aircraft can be set up to make larger droplet sizes, including nozzle selection, operating the spraying system at higher pressure, and reducing aircraft speed while still maintaining flight safety. Participants will see how the impact of using the larger droplets reducies the risk of drift. Just as importantly, they will also see how the application setups are being used to make efficacious applications. A concern for many aerial applicators is that the use of larger droplets can reduce coverage and thus negatively impact the efficacy of the application. Examples of pest control from the operator as well as results from a research study conducted by the USDA-ARS Aerial Application Research and Technology will document success in making effective applications with a large droplet size.
The security segment of the 2022-2023 PAASS program will discuss an intentional fuel contamination incident that occurred at an operation causing one accident and one near miss. The incident is a reminder to all agricultural aviators that security is essential for their safety as well as that of their customers and the public. PAASS will also talk about the importance of inspecting nozzles for correct alignment and include a question-and-answer session to improve aerial applicator’s knowledge.