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Training and crew requirements for Agricultural Drone

The increasing use of large drones in commercial settings, particularly in agriculture, has brought about new considerations in crewmember selection, certification, and training. With drones like the DJI Agras T40, which are well above the 55 lbs limit of FAA part 107 drone regulations, and are capable of carrying hazardous chemicals, these considerations become even more critical. According to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), there was a 180% increase in commercial drone use between 2016 and 2021, highlighting the growing need for specialized training and certification in UAS operations. This article explores the essential factors in managing these advanced aerial tools for agricultural applications.


Key factors in our pilot training program

Our pilot training program is meticulous. Beyond the FAA Part 107 certification, our organization operates under a Part 137 regulatory framework. This means that our lead pilot maintains:

  1. FAA Part 107 certification

  2. Second class medical examination

  3. State-level pesticide licenses

  4. Special exemptions from the national FAA to operate large drones

  5. And other requirements for part 137

The crew typically comprises a pilot in command (PIC) and a visual observer (VO), each with distinct responsibilities and required qualifications​​. Trainees will pass through classroom training, then become a VO, and after working as a VO for a while, will be able to become a PIC.


Training for Safe Operations in the NAS

The training regimen for UAS operators includes several essential components:

  1. Classroom Training: Covering basics, RTK systems, and specifics of the DJI Agras T40​​.

  2. Simulator Time: (2 hours) Essential for learning the controls and nuances of drone flight​​.

  3. Actual UAS Flight Time: (10 hours) Building practical experience with drones like the DJI Mini SE​​.

  4. Evaluations and Drills: Testing flight skills and readiness for advanced platforms​​.

  5. On the Job Training:b (40 hours required to be promoted to PIC) Learning the controls and limits of the aircraft under supervision.

Size, Capability, and Training Requirements

The size and capabilities of a UAS like the DJI Agras T40 significantly dictate the level of training required. The larger the drone and the more complex its functions, the more extensive the training and certification process. The consequences of a mishap are exponentially worse with large agricultural drones. These drones are very expensive, very large, and carry hazardous chemicals. A crash will be expensive to repair, can cause damage to property or people, and can expose people to chemicals.


Advantages of Comprehensive Training

Proper training ensures enhanced safety and operational efficiency, enabling operators to maximize the capabilities of drones like the DJI Agras T40 for agricultural purposes.


Conclusion

As the commercial use of drones like the DJI Agras T40 continues to grow, so does the importance of selecting well-trained and certified crewmembers. This comprehensive approach to training and certification is vital to ensure the safe and effective use of drones in agricultural operations, aligning with the increasing trend of commercial drone applications.


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