Electrical assets in the air
The Aerial Application Association of Australia (AAA) outlines the challenges of spraying, seeding, and fertilising crops and pastures when operating a heavily loaded aircraft. Pilots may be required to safely navigate runways which have marginal lengths and surfaces.
Agricultural pilots are also expected to manoeuvre aircrafts at very low altitudes, amongst obstacles, whilst applying materials - all in a manner that is safe for themselves, the general public, and the environment.
The AAA reports that wire strikes account for approximately 57% of all agricultural aviation accidents. According to The Australian Transport Safety Bureau, approximately 30% of these wire strikes occurred when the pilot was unaware of the location of electricity wires - something that can be avoided with better mapping of electricity assets and more comprehensive planning.
what should you do
The Australian Transport Safety Bureau recommends to:
- Conduct a thorough briefing and study a detailed map of the area before a flight.
- Carry out an initial aerial survey before spraying and conduct another before the clean-up run.
- Reassess the risks when plans change.
- Don't rely on your ability to react in time to avoid a wire.
- Actively look for and remind yourself of wires and have a systematic approach to safely managing wires.
Farmer rebate for aerial markers
In a push to prevent dangerous incidents on NSW farms, you may be eligible for a SafeWork NSW rebate to purchase overhead powerline markers.
Farms are very dangerous workplaces. With the increasing frequency of incidents related to augers, trucks and low flying planes colliding with electrical powerlines, there’s a growing emphasis to encourage farmers to stop and think about safety across the entirety of their operations.
Overhead powerline markers are highly, visible reflective devices which are installed to provide a safety indication of wire location.
If you’re in NSW reach out to SafeWork NSW or if you’re in another state, check with your local energy provider to see what support you may be eligible for.