NAAA Launches UAV Safety Campaign Focused on Ag Sector
ALEXANDRIA, VA — July 29, 2015 — The National Agricultural Aviation Association (NAAA) has launched a UAV safety campaign to raise awareness and prevent accidents between UAV operators and low-altitude manned aircraft. The first public outreach tool in the safety campaign is a UAV “safety stuffer” designed for aerial applicators to share with farmers and other agricultural stakeholders. Sized to fit into a No. 10 envelope, the double-sided insert illustrates the safety concerns ag pilots have about hard-to-see UAVs and provides recommendations for safe and responsible UAV operations in rural areas. NAAA has also produced a short video titled “Safe UAV Operations Around Low-Flying, Manned Aircraft,” which is available at AgAviation.org/uavsafety.
The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International expects agriculture to make up 80 percent of the potential market for commercial UAVs once the Federal Aviation Administration finalizes its rules regulating the commercial use of unmanned aircraft systems. That notion has been reinforced by media reports chronicling a fervor among farmers eager to purchase their own UAV to use for crop-sensing and aerial imaging. However, NAAA is concerned that the widespread use of UAVs, without safe and proper integration, will create conditions ripe for low-level aviation accidents.
“When agricultural aviators cannot see objects they will very likely collide with them,” NAAA Executive Director Andrew Moore said. “Sadly, accidents from collisions with wires and unmarked towers have taken the lives of agricultural pilots. These kinds of accidents generally occur because of an inability by the ag pilot to see the obstacles or lack of information of their whereabouts. There’s no doubt that UAVs will have a similar jeopardizing safety effect on us if ag pilots are unable to see or locate them.”
In addition to lobbying Congress and the Federal Aviation Administration for UAV regulations that protect agricultural aviators and other low-flying manned aircraft, NAAA has enlisted its members and state association partners to help educate farmers, crop consultants, ag retailers and the public about safe and responsible UAV operations in rural areas. The UAV safety stuffers are one component of that.
One side of the ad insert features an ag pilot taking evasive action as an oncoming UAV quadcopter approaches. “UAVS CAN BE HAZARDOUS TO LOW-FLYING PILOTS,” the headline declares. The subhead states, “Don’t Bet the Farm by Putting UAV Operations Above Pilot Safety.” The other side shows a UAV hovering over the same field an ag aircraft is spraying. “SEE AND AVOID,” the headline declares, “Manned Aircraft Must See a UAV to Avoid It.” Each ad ends with a simple plea to UAV operators, “Fly with care,” and recommends the following practices to protect manned and unmanned aircraft operating in low-level airspace:
- Get certified and well-trained in operating a UAV.
- Equip UAVs with strobe lights and tracking technology, like an ADS-B Out system.
- Always give the right-of-way to the manned aircraft. It’s the law.
- Coordinate with local aircraft operators about UAV operations.
- Carry sufficient UAV liability insurance.
NAAA’s UAV safety stuffers are part of a campaign to educate farmers and other agricultural stakeholders about the safety concerns ag pilots have about UAVs and share UAV best practices.
The double-sided UAV stuffer is designed to be included with invoices agricultural aviators send to their customers.
UAV Safety VideoNAAA’s UAV safety video debuted on the association’s Facebook page on July 10. Since then, it has reached more than 20,000 Facebook users and been shared 74 times, including by the Colorado Department of Agriculture and Colorado CattleWomen Inc. The video has also been played more than 800 times. It can be viewed at AgAviation.org and on Facebook at facebook.com/NationalAgriculturalAviationAssociation.
Think Before You Launch CoalitionNAAA’s UAV safety stuffers and video are aimed primarily at ag stakeholders. The association also has joined a coalition of aviation and UAV stakeholders in backing the “Think Before You Launch” campaign. Think Before You Launch is a cooperative effort between UAV stakeholders and low-altitude aviation groups to prevent accidents by providing detailed safety information to all potential users operating in low-altitude airspace.
The coalition began as a state initiative between the Colorado Agricultural Aviation Association, the Colorado General Aviation Alliance, Avian LLC, the Colorado Pilots Association, UAS Colorado and Agribotix. With the addition of NAAA, the North Carolina Agricultural Aviation Association, the Nebraska Aviation Trades Association and other organizations, Think Before You Launch has expanded into a broader, national coalition.
The group has been working with the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, the Academy of Model Aeronautics and the Small UAV Coalition on incorporating language into their Know Before You Fly campaign emphasizing the importance of safe UAV operations in remote, rural and agricultural areas where manned aircraft may be operating very close to ground level. Visit thinkbeforeyoulaunch.com for more information.
For more information about NAAA’s UAV safety efforts, visit AgAviation.org/uavsafety.
The National Agricultural Aviation Association 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 bio-fuel production, protect forestry and control health-threatening pests.