Operation SAFE Overview

Operation SAFE (Self-regulating Application & Flight Efficiency), developed in 1981, was designed to clearly demonstrate that ag aviation recognizes its responsibility to minimize the potential for adverse health and environmental effects of agricultural chemical application.


Connect pilots and operators with trained and vetted professional analysts, providing not only education, but the opportunity to measure and assess application efficacy and mitigate drift.

Means to Achieve the Objective

Operation SAFE consists of a comprehensive program of education and  professional analysis of application. The backbone of Operation SAFE is the Professional Application Analysis Clinic (Fly-In). Participating at a Fly-In involves the standardized measurement of collected samples from test passes made by an aircraft. These measurements provide relative deposition and (for liquid applications) droplet size. NAAREF-recognized Operation SAFE Analysts, including USDA and University scientists, industry experts and operators are trained to interpret these measurements and provide the pilot or operator with recommendations for equipment adjustment (if needed) and projected in-field performance.

Learn More about Fly-Ins

How to Participate

Operation SAFE is administered by NAAREF, who recommends having your aircraft evaluated every 2 years or after major changes are made to the application system.  Some key benefits from participating are:

  • Measurement and characterization of application pattern
  • Determination of optimum effective swath width
  • Documentation of expected application performance

Any licensed operator or aerial applicator is encouraged to participate in Operation SAFE. As an added benefit for participating NAAA members, an Operation SAFE Emblem (sticker to affix to aircraft) may be obtained to show others your commitment to making an accurate application.

In addition to several consultants, many State and Regional Agricultural Aviation Associations regularly host Operation SAFE Clinics. There are also options for conducting your own pattern testing and consulting with a NAAREF-recognized Analyst.

Find a SAFE Analyst