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U.S. Forest Service
Caring for the land and serving people

United States Department of Agriculture

Forest Health Protection Aviation Safety & Aerial Survey

The Forest Health Protection (FHP) staff of the USDA Forest Service is responsible for pest detection, reporting and forest management and support concerning federal, state and private lands. FHP aviation programs include insect and disease surveys, aerial photography and aerial application to assist federal and state partners and the public in meeting forest health objectives. Of key interest:

1) Personnel and public health and safety
2) Healthy forests now and into the future

The primary function of FHP Aviation Safety and Aerial Survey  is to implement safe and efficient operations considering state of the art tools, technology, and philosophy embracing the principles of sound risk management applied throughout the system. The purpose of this website is to provide information pertaining to aviation safety and management, training, events and current activities relating to FHP aviation programs. View the USDA Forest Service Aviation Strategic Plan: 2014-2018 (72MB PDF).

FHP Aviation Program


The Forest Health Protection Aviation Program uses rotor and fixed-wing aircraft for aerial application, aerial detection, remote sensing and photography. Operational requirements and flight time varies according to resource needs within each program. During a typical year approximately 6,000 hours total are flown in nearly all 50 states.
Each FHP Region or Area has an appointed Unit Aviation Officer (UAO), who serves as the primary aviation contact for that unit, and a National Aviation Safety Manager, who provides aviation and aerial survey expertise and field support for safety and training. Personnel in these organizations are also members of a variety of interagency and State cooperator working groups, councils and committees dedicated to safety and quality of FHP aviation operations.

  • Aerial Survey Working Group – formally chartered in March of 2000 to provide field-level input to Washington Office and Staff Directors as well as provide assistance to others conducting or planning to conduct aerial surveys. The group includes FHP UAOs, the National Aviation Safety Manager, and one FHP Staff Director as liaison between the group, FHP Directors and State Foresters. Additional membership is voluntary.
  • Aerial Application Safety Committee – formed out of the 2002 Aerial Application Safety Team to examine safety issues and recommend improvements for safety of aerial applications projects. The council includes east and west FHP application representation, the Northeastern Area State & Private Forestry Aviation Safety Manager, the National Aviation Safety Manager, state program managers, industry and Animal Plant Health Inspection Service representation.