What’s the process to get qualified for drone spraying applications? In most countries there are three main areas to concentrate on, somewhat similar but each country has different governing bodies. The three areas of interest are outlined below:
· Chemical Handling
· Aircraft Airworthiness
· Pilot Training
In the US regulation of pesticides is controlled by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The administration of pesticide application regulations is handled through the state level and falls under the Department of Agriculture. You will need to contact your Department of Agriculture at your local state level to verify the requirements and exams to achieve your aerial applicators licence. Aircraft airworthiness in the US it is controlled by the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA)The section that applies to drones falls under Part 107 for drones under 55lbs. You will also need to apply for a Part 137 waiver as it applies to spraying pesticides from aircraft. If you use the U7AG RPAS you will also need to apply for a Section 44807 waiver, (replaces 333 exemption) waiver as the maximum take off weight of the U7Ag is over 55lbs.
For pilot training it is a good idea to take a training course from a reputable company with good training material. Once you have passed your pilot training you will have to define and write your operations procedures including items like operating procedures, emergency procedures, training manuals, maintenance logs etc. Once you have completed your concept of operations you will apply to a Flight Standards District office who are responsible for enforcement. They will conduct an actual flight review of your processes.
In Canada the use of pesticides is regulated through the Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA). It governs all pesticide label use in Canada. Pesticide application licenses are issued on a provincial level and in some cases are recognized from province to province. You will need to pass a core pesticide exam as well as your aerial applicators exam. Note. Pesticide application is currently off label in Canada.
Aircraft worthiness is determined by Transport Canada (TC). To be certified in Canada the manufacturer of the drone has to submit a safety assurance declaration to be reviewed by TC and covers such things as concept of operations, maintenance, operational risk assessment, user manuals, and the manufacturing process. In the case of the U7AG a Special Fight Operating Certificate (SFOC) must be applied for as the drone is over 25kg and is to be used for applying pesticides.
There are two types of pilot certifications in Canada Basic and Advanced. For simplicity any drone flights that are commercial and require an SFOC need the Advanced licence. Once again a reputable drone pilot course is recommended. Once the advanced exam is passed you will need to complete a Flight Review that exists of an actual drone flight and going over your operation procedures and emergency and safety procedures.
The federal authority governing airspace in Australia is the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA). Drones in the medium class 25-150kg require a remote pilot licence (RePL). There are some exceptions in the under 25kg class but this would not apply to spray drones. The application of pesticides in Australia is governed by the EPA. Regulation can vary state by state and the applicator may be required to hold licensees for each state applying in.
In the case of aerial application by drone some states require both the pilot and their employer are required to have an application licence. An RPA applicator business licence is also required.
Joint Authorities for Rulemaking of Unmanned Systems (JARUS)
JARUS is an organization developed to bring a standardized system for integrating unmanned systems into traditional airspace. There are approximately 61 countries involved with JARUS. At a high level it attempts to give each unmanned system a specific assurance and integrity level by doing an operational risk assessment. This is done by comparing the kinetic energy along with an air risk class and ground risk class to obtain a SAIL category. From this Sail category standards for level of robustness can be determined.
We realize the paperwork can be excessive at times and we offer one on one consultation and templates to help in the process. If you would like any information please feel free to contact us:
We work in collaboration with Matt Johnson from M3 Aerial who has trained over 1500 pilots. Due to Covid-19 travel restrictions Matt is offering his course online and the training course can be for applied to either Canada or USA. If you would like more information or would like to enroll in the pilot course please contact us for a 25% discount on the training course.
There is always the chicken and the egg scenario when it comes to purchasing a drone and getting the approvals for spraying. If you wish to purchase a drone to get comfortable with the operations side while going through the approval processes you may be pre revenue until the approval process is completed. If you feel financing would be a benefit in that time, we can arrange for financing through our lending partner.
The drone spraying business is just on the peak of taking off. ROGA is currently seeking service providers and dealers in select areas of the US, Australia and Canada. As a service provider with the purchase of one or more drones you will receive training support and be able to become a service provider in your area.
There are also opportunities to become full-service dealer providers. With the purchase of two or more drones you can be granted an exclusive territory, training and consulting and well as discounted pricing on drones and parts.
Contact us to learn more about becoming a Service Provider or Exclusive Dealer..