Becoming an Ag Pilot

The Career

Aerial application is one of the most demanding types of flying. Often conducted at very low level – a few metres above the ground when spraying – the flying must be based on professionalism and a very high degree of ‘stick and rudder’ aptitude.

The culture of the industry is very mission focussed on doing a good – and safe – job for our clients. For this reason, a healthy personal attitude towards safety, teamwork and a sound personal knowledge of products and application technology is essential.

Aerial application companies are almost universally located in rural and regional Australia and this is a very attractive feature of the career, where the ability to sustain an aviation career goes hand-in-hand with a great lifestyle and community.

Aerial application is generally very seasonal, meaning that months of little activity may be followed by periods of intense high-tempo operations.

Aerial application can be a very rewarding career for any pilot that is up for a challenging daily work environment, has good stick and rudder skills, is committed to ongoing professional development and has a very strong commitment to safety.

Aerial application is not a career only for pilots – there are a range of other occupations that make up the industry, ranging from LAMEs (aircraft engineers) to operations managers, loader-mixers and secretarial staff.

If you would like to discuss a career in aerial application, contact the AAAA office.

Training & Licensing of Pilots

On a worldwide basis, Australia requires the highest standard of aerial application pilot qualification.

Aerial application aircraft pilots are highly trained and licensed, and can only be described as professional. To obtain an aerial application rating a pilot must first obtain a commercial license and then attend a school approved and supervised by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) for an intensive agricultural flying and theory course.

On completion of this course, following flying and written examinations conducted by CASA, the pilot is issued with an Agricultural Class 2 Rating. During his initial introduction to the industry, he/she operates under the supervision of a CASA approved Chief Pilot. After attaining 1,000 agricultural flying hours, he/she is again examined to CASA standards and may be issued with an Agricultural Class 1 Rating.

All States require the pilot to hold an Agricultural Chemical License or Rating. This involves a Spraysafe examination conducted by the AAAA and accepted by the regulatory authorities such as Primary Industries & Environment.

Pilot requirements

Before a pilot can conduct aerial application work, he or she must have the following:

  • A Commercial Pilot’s Licence
  • An Agricultural Pilot Rating
  • The required numbers of flying hours for currency
  • Proficiency on type endorsement
  • A Chemical Distribution licence – the AAAA Spraysafe manual and exam is accepted by all States and Territories
  • Employment by an operator or own their own company, which demands even higher requirements

AAAA Members Aerial Application Flying Training

There are a number of aerial application training schools in Australia. The following list are members of the AAAA and we encourage you to support your members.

Fixed Wing

Barry Foster
Woorayl Air Services
PO Box 310
Leongatha VIC 3953
Phone: 03 5664 3288

Ross Pay
Pay’s Pty Ltd
PO Box 158
Scone, NSW, 2337
Phone: 02 6545 1166

Steve Rossington
Field Air Group
Private Bag 25
BALLARAT VIC 3351
Phone: 03 5330 9330

Rotary

Darryl Taylor
Tasmanian Helicopters Pty Ltd
PO Box 398
Devonport TAS 7310
Phone: 03 6426 1623