Under an Agricultural operation both the operator and the pilot must have under gone training and achieved certification in the application/handling of chemicals and pesticides, and the pilot must hold an agricultural rating endorsement on their pilots licence, if they are to spray mosquitos affecting animals in agricultural areas. This new interpretation however, means that if the mosquitos are affecting humans and the spraying of these pesticides is within an urban area, these rigorous safety standards do not apply.
Brent Nottage from Helispecs Pty Ltd a member of the Aerial Agricultural Association of Australia and chief pilot at Helispecs says "They have effectively taken what is agricultural operation by helicopter and turned it into an aerial work function which does not require the operator or pilot to have under gone any training at all in the application/handling of pesticides, the pilot also does not need to hold a agricultural rating endorsed on their pilots licence."
In 2001 CASA issued a ruling stating that it was an agricultural operation and this was confirmed again in early March 2011. Then early May 2011 for reasons unknown, they have done a complete back flip. The public should demand the regulatory body to provide some concrete reasons and answers as to how and why they have come to this decision .
This new interpretation also flies in the face of State regulations and the APVMA which controls and regulates chemical/pesticide use in Australia and recommends the professional application and handling of pesticides and recommends pilots hold some sort of distribution licence appropriate for the state in which the operation takes place. When these operations are conducted by a company or persons that are licenced for the application of pesticides it is in the hands of professionals that have been trained in the application and handling techniques that these chemicals require and deserve.
Given that most aerial mosquito spraying is conducted around estuaries, recreational areas, reserves, and urban areas the risks that this new interpretation poses to public safety could be significant. As such we are encouraging the public to speak with CASA and their Local Member to demand that highly experienced professional operators/ pilots who conduct these types of operations on a daily basis be contracted or employed for accurate logged application of these pesticides, and for the safety of the public in general.
See following the passage from this new ruling:
In the context of mosquito spraying operations, the question becomes whether the mosquito control operation is conducted for a purpose having some connection to farming or forestry, as for instance, the prevention of mosquito borne diseases in livestock or the prevention of mosquito infestation on agricultural land – if so, then the operation may be regarded as an agricultural operation and must be conducted under an AOC authorising operations by a pilot holding an agricultural rating.
If the mosquito control operation is conducted purely for a purpose not associated with agriculture – such as prevention of a mosquito infestation in urban areas, or prevention of mosquito borne diseases in human populations – then the operation is not an agricultural operation and there is thus no requirement for the holding of an AOC which specifically authorises agricultural operations, nor is the pilot required to hold an agricultural rating.
To read the full letter issued on May 5 2011 click here .