8900.1 CHG 543



Section 2  Introduction to Airworthiness Issues for Part 137

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2-1001    AGRICULTURAL AIRCRAFT OPERATIONS. Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) part 137 is applicable to all persons conducting agricultural aircraft operations within the United States. Conducting these operations requires an Agricultural Aircraft Operator Certificate. Exceptions include the use of public aircraft and the dispensing of water on forest fires by rotorcraft external-load operators. Certification of a part 137 operator that wishes to use an Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) requires the inspector to have additional knowledge of Public Law (PL) 112-95, FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012, Section 333, Special Rules for Certain Unmanned Aircraft Systems; the 14 CFR part 11 exemption process; 14 CFR part 107; and Volume 16. Certification of an operator using a small UAS requires an inspector to have knowledge of part 107. Please be aware, the operator of a UAS either cannot comply with several sections in part 137, or those requirements are not applicable to UAS operations. Therefore, an applicant proposing to use a UAS must receive a grant of exemption with relief of the appropriate sections of parts 107 and 137 before the certification process reaches the Demonstration and Inspection Phase. UAS that weigh less than 55 pounds are operated under part 107 and will require an exemption to sections of part 137 to legally conduct operations. UAS that weigh 55 pounds or more must be operated under an exemption and that exemption will include relief from sections of 14 CFR parts 61, 91, and 137. The phrase “unless otherwise exempted” is used numerous times in this volume and refers to an operator’s exemption, whether they are operating a small UAS under part 107 or under a PL 112‑95, Section 333 exemption for a UAS that weighs 55 pounds or more.

2-1002    PUBLIC EMERGENCIES. Part 137, 137.1(b) allows certificated agricultural operators to deviate from part 137 for relief and welfare activities during public emergencies. The determination of a public emergency is made by an agency of the United States or by a state or local government.

2-1003    DEFINITION OF AGRICULTURAL AIRCRAFT OPERATION. An agricultural aircraft operation involves any of the following functions:

    The dispensing of any economic poison, as defined in 137.3;

    The dispensing of any other substance intended for plant nourishment, soil treatment, plant growth, or pest control; or

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    Any dispersing activities directly affecting agriculture, horticulture, or forest preservation, but not including the dispensing of live insects.

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2-1004    AIRCRAFT EQUIPMENT. The applicant must have at least one certificated and Airworthy aircraft equipped for agricultural operations, unless otherwise exempted. Section 137.31 requires each aircraft operated by an agricultural aircraft operator to be equipped with a suitable and properly installed shoulder harness for the use of each pilot. This use of the term “suitable and properly installed” shall be interpreted to mean “of an approved type.” UAS may be exempted from certain aircraft equipment requirements, such as 137.31.

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2-1005    HAZARDOUS/TOXIC MATERIALS. The danger of contamination by toxic agricultural chemicals is very real. Common sense in the presence of agricultural chemicals is very important, and inspectors should be on the alert for exposure to hazardous/toxic materials. An operator using a UAS that weighs less than 55 pounds will be operated under part 107 and an exemption from part 107, 107.36 will be required.

A.    Accident Investigation. For safety reasons, inspectors should determine what chemicals were being dispensed before reporting to the site of an agricultural aircraft accident. The inspector must determine the chemicals’ specific hazards and the precautions to be taken. In this type of aircraft accident, a large amount of chemicals can be concentrated in a small area, increasing the hazards to investigating inspectors.

B.    Federal and State Agencies. FAA inspectors should become familiar with the Federal and state agencies that work with aerial application of hazardous/toxic materials. Some district offices may also maintain files on this subject. (See Volume 7, Chapter 1, Section 1.)

RESERVED. Paragraphs 2-1006 through 2-1020.