Source: Iowa State University's Center for Agricultural Law and Taxation

In a complaint regarding a crop duster flying too low over an intersection and three nearby homes in Iowa sparked a debate about Federal Aviation Administration's definition of a "congested area" and when it can be applied.

The FAA told the crop duster he must file a "congested area plan" before flying over any possible congested area or the agency would file an enforcement action. The crop duster inquired about the meaning behind "congested area" and the FAA investigator responded by saying that no "precise" definition existed. The only advice the investigator offered was that "a group of ... as few as two or three houses ... may be considered congested." 

The court determined that the evidence pointed to a finding that this was a "congested area." As noted above, the designation of a "congested area" is determined on a "case-by-case" basis. Even though there were only two or three homes in the area of the intersection, there were at least 30 homes in the general vicinity of the intersection. The neighbor's complaints showed that the crop duster's flights passed over the general vicinity at a low altitude. 

Original press release