6 Apr 2009

Improve airstrips, top-dressing firms told

11:29 am on 6 April 2009

Landowners are being told to get to work on improving airstrips to help cut the number of fatal top-dressing accidents.

The Agriculture Aviation Association says there is on average a death every nine months in the industry.

A recent Civil Aviation Authority safety review of the industry identified two key areas of concern - the size of loads and the upgrading of aircraft with more powerful engines.

But Agriculture Aviation Association chief executive John Maber says that combination can be all right, provided airstrips are up to scratch.

Graeme Martin, head of Hamilton top-dressing company Super Air, which has a fleet of 20 aircraft, says it can be a high-risk job for his pilots and loaders.

The Civil Aviation Authority has met with the Agriculture Aviation Association and some aerial sprayers, and will now work on improving safety.