NAAA Urges Right-of-Way for Low-Altitude Manned Agricultural Aircraft

Dan Agri-Business

A drone flying over the field.
By LyazaTretyakova/DepositPhotos image

With many farmers busy planting and the growing season underway, the National Agricultural Aviation Association (NAAA) is asking all uncrewed aircraft system (UAS) operators (or drones) to be mindful of low altitude crewed (or manned) agricultural aircraft operations. Ag aviators treat 127 million acres of cropland in the U.S. each year in addition to pastureland, rangeland and forestry that help farmers increase productivity and protect their crops. 

UAS are not allowed above 400 feet without a waiver from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and manned agricultural aircraft fly as low as 10 feet off the ground when making an application, meaning they share this low-altitude airspace with drones. 


While aerial applications are already underway in many parts of the country, operations nationwide will peak during the summer months. In a survey conducted by NAAA near the end of the 2023 agricultural aviation season, 11% of manned aerial application operators reported that either they or a pilot flying for them encountered a drone while operating an ag aircraft last year. 

NAAA notes the public depends on the continued safe, affordable and abundant supply of food, fiber and bioenergy and America’s agricultural aviators are busy working in the skies to help farmers produce their crops. So they ask anyone flying an uncrewed aircraft system to do everything they can to avoid crewed/manned agricultural aircraft. 

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