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National Agricultural Aviation Association eNewsletter
Voice of the Aerial Application Industry
November 9, 2023
Proposed Multi-UAS Night Spraying Operations without Visual Observers; NAAA Responds
On November 2, NAAA submitted comments to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regarding a recently published petition by Hylio, Inc. (Hylio) for exemption from 14 CFR Parts 61, 91 and 137 to conduct spraying operations with its AG-230 Uncrewed Aircraft System (UAS). The AG-230 is an 8-gallon capacity octocopter marketed by Hylio to produce up to a 35 ft swath width and treat up to 50 acres per hour at 1 GPA. Specifically, Hylio petitioned for relief to operate up to 3 UAS under one operator, each weighing over 55 pounds, during night, and without visual observers (VOs), within visual line of sight (VLOS) of the pilot in command (PIC). 
 
While much of the petition was written to match relief in previously granted exemptions for other operators, it also uniquely requests to conduct self-titled advanced operations (at night, multi-ship and without a VO) simultaneously, in any combination. The petition offered no justification for why the relief should be granted. Instead, the petition repeatedly states: 
 
“THE COMPANY believes that an equivalent level of safety will can be achieved by following additional protocols. The proprietary manuals outline these protocols and should provide the support necessary to grant the exemption and demonstrate how an equivalent level of safety is achieved.”  
 
Overall, NAAA commented in opposition to the operations as proposed by the petitioner. Of specific concern was the proposed multi-ship (swarm) operation without VOs. NAAA did not find sufficient evidence that a single PIC would be able to maintain vigilance, in accordance with §91.113(b), to see and avoid other aircraft. Because crewed ag aircraft will share the Part 137 airspace, they are the most likely risk-bearers of this reduction in safety.  
 
For night operations, the petitioner plans to utilize strobe lighting visible for 3 statute miles. NAAA requested that the equipped strobe lighting be required to be on for all (night and day) operations as an additional means for collision mitigation. 
 
NAAA also reminded the FAA of the unique gravity of dispensing economic poisons, and questioned whether a single PIC can fulfill his/her §137.37 duty (to not dispense in creation of a hazard) while tasked with operating 3 aircraft, potentially at night and without VOs. 
 
In the petitioner’s Benefit to Public Interest section, they tout that “UAS may be used in the event that there is no other way to safely spray a certain land area. This will reduce the chance of manned aircraft attempting to spray certain dangerous areas.” NAAA agrees with this; UAS can allow operators to keep crewed aircraft out of the most dangerous fields. However, they then state “UAS allow for methods of precision spraying that are not possible with manned aircraft.” NAAA took great issue with this statement, citing the distinct lack of efficacy data available to support it and referencing a letter sent by NAAA to EPA on this subject in 2020, previously reported in this newsletter
 
You can view NAAA’s comments here
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This newsletter is intended for NAAA members only. NAAA requests that should any party desire to publish, distribute or quote any part of this newsletter that they first seek the permission of the Association. The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed herein do not necessarily represent those of the National Agricultural Aviation Association (NAAA), its Board of Directors, staff or membership. Items in this newsletter are not the result of paid advertising and are only meant to highlight newsworthy developments. No endorsement by NAAA is intended or implied.
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IN THIS ISSUE
Chlorpyrifos Makes a Comeback NAAA Stands Ready to Keep Aerial Application on the Label
EPA Approves Final Revised Restricted Use Pesticide Applicator Certification Plans
Proposed Multi-UAS Night Spraying Operations without Visual Observers; NAAA Responds
NAAA Ag Aviation Expo Room Block Closes Today; Register for Wire Avoidance Course and NAAREF Fundraiser
Many Auction Items Up for Bid at NAAA Live Auction; Letter of Credit Required for PT6A-34AG Engine
NAAA Support Committee Events at the Ag Aviation Expo
Support NAAA by Renewing Your Membership for 2024
Apply for C-PAASS 2023 by December 11
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Beware of Media Companies That May Not Portray Your Operation of the Ag Aviation Industry in Positive Light
Important Call for GPS Data to Protect Manned Ag Aircraft from Drones
CALENDAR OF EVENTS
 

Nov. 14-16

Colorado AAA Convention

Island Grove Regional Park 

Greeley, CO

Jessica Freeman

(970) 217-5293

 

Dec. 4-7

NAAA Ag Aviation Expo

Palm Springs Conv. Center 

Palm Springs, CA

Lauren Henretty

(202) 546-5722

 

Dec. 7

Flying in the Wire and Obstruction Environment Course

Palm Springs Conv. Center 

Palm Springs, CA

Lauren Henretty

(202) 546-5722

Full Calendar of Events

 

 
 

 

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