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C-PAASS Application Open – Become a 2024 Certified-Professional Aerial Applicator Safety Steward!
The 2024 Certified-Professional Aerial Applicator Safety Steward (C-PAASS) application is now open! This annual, individual certification for ag pilots, both operator and non-operator, serves to recognize a strong commitment to safety, professionalism and the pursuit of continuous improvement. Use it to positively distinguish yourself to insurers, customers, regulators and others outside the industry — and be a part of the force advancing safety, and changing the narrative, for agricultural aviation on a national level. Individuals seeking 2024 certification will need to meet the requirements below:

New for 2024 and offered at no cost to NAAA members, NAAA and NAAREF have released the following two online courses listed below. Completion of each is required for 2024 certification. This is only the beginning. It is anticipated that future years will provide the opportunity for individuals to choose from a catalog of available courses for certification.

Avoiding Wire Strike Accidents
This 2-hour self-paced course is based on the 2022-2023 PAASS Program’s Human Factors module of the same title. It covers wire strike statistics, reconnaissance, forecasting and decision-making. (Course ID: 24-HF-01) Note: Individuals who have taken the Utilities / Aviation Specialists Flying in the Wire and Obstruction Environment course in-person within the last 12 months (at the Ag Aviation Expo, a state meeting, etc.) can waive this online course requirement upon request.

The Impact of Each Droplet – Part 1
This 30-minute self-paced course is a spray application primer in droplet size terminology and industry standards. Topics covered include droplet size statistics, droplet spectrum categories, coverage and drift potential. As the first course in a same-titled series, it lays the foundations for more in-depth courses centered around optimizing aerial spray applications. (Course ID: 24-EP-01).

You can check your C-PAASS eligibility anytime. Once you have completed all the component requirements, including the two courses above, you can apply online for 2024 C-PAASS! You can find more detailed instructions on applying here.
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Results from 2022 FAA General Aviation Survey Released Providing a More Detailed Profile of Ag Aviation
The results from the 2022 FAA General Aviation and Part 135 Activity Survey (GA Survey) have been released. Ag aviators flew a total of 831,999 hours in 2022, a reduction from the 924,037 hours flown in 2021. A total of 2,813 ag aircraft were used in 2021, which was again a decline from the 3,139 ag aircraft used in 2021. The average hours flown per aircraft remained relatively unchanged from 294.4 hours per aircraft in 2021 to 280 hours per aircraft in 2022.

Hours flown and number of aircraft are not the only variables that can be used to indicate the overall productivity of the agricultural aviation industry – acres treated is also a key indicator. At this time however, there is no annual estimate of these acres. We do know that over the last few years there has been an increase in higher hopper capacity ag aircraft and a corresponding decrease in lower hopper capacity aircraft. Larger capacity aircraft can obviously treat more acre per hour of flight time.

There were 51 ag aviation accidents, including nine fatal accidents, in 2022. The overall ag aviation accident rate in 2022 was 6.13 accidents per 100,000 ag hours flown. The 2022 fatal ag aviation accident rate was 1.08 fatal ag aviation accidents per 100,000 flown. The 2022 accident rate for the remainder of general aviation (excluding part 135) was lower than ag aviation’s rate at 5.25 accidents per 100,000 hours flown. General aviation’s 2022 fatal accident rate was 0.88 fatal accidents per 100,000 hours flown, which is also lower than ag aviation’s fatal accident rate.

Since PAASS began in 1999, the overall ag accident rate has declined by 26.6%. This matches a 26% reduction in drift incidents since PAASS. A remarkable figure when considering that fewer than half, or 47% of ag pilots attended PAASS prior to 2020. The fatal accident rate has declined 6.2% since PAASS began.

In 2022 fixed-wing aircraft represented 76.8% of the ag aircraft used and the other 23.2% were rotor-wing aircraft. Fixed-wing aircraft accounting for 79.5% of the ag aviation hours flown and rotor-wing aircraft accounting for 20.5% of ag aviation hours. For engine type, including both fixed and rotor-wing aircraft, piston engines were used in 23.1% of ag aircraft in 2022 and represented 13.1% of the total ag aviation hours flown. Turbine engines were used in 76.9% of ag aircraft and accounted for 86.9% of the 2022 ag aviation flight hours.

Invitations to participate in the 2023 GAA survey have already been sent out. Please help our industry and aviation in general by providing accurate information to the FAA if you are invited to participate.
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Ag planes are filled with fire retardant at the North Platte airport. Photo Courtesy Christina Schultis

Nebraska Ag Aviators Come to the Rescue to Combat Potentially Devastating Fires
This week, several small wildfires started north of North Platte, NE. NAAA Operator member Casey Williams of Arrow Aviation, Inc. in Broken Bow, NE, and NAAA pilot member Flynn Baker of Kearney, NE, stepped in to help douse the flames, and the fires are now under control. As the threat of wildfires continues to grow across the U.S., it is an opportunity for ag pilots to help with aerial firefighting for their local communities. Read more here.
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