Yellow crop duster plane flying over agricultural field

agricultural aviation

Overhead powerlines can present a risk to any form of aircraft. With aircrafts being used for various agricultural  practices, it's important to understand the risks and steps you can take to stay safe in the air. 
Wire strikes account for approximately 57% of all agricultural aviation accidents.

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.

Irrigation system on farm with power pole

Farming and agriculture

Staying safe around electricity is an important part of everyday life for those working on the farm. Learn more about the risks and how to manage them.
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Man standing on roof holding hard hat looking at overhead electricity wires

Working near powerlines

Learn more about the dangers of working near powerlines and what you can do to be safer around them.
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In an emergency call 000

your electricity distributor

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Check your electricity distributor's website or social media for updates on power outages.
Electricity distributors in Australia have resources including outage maps that can be accessed online. Many also give live updates via social media.
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Contact your electricity distributor to report fallen wires or damaged poles and powerlines.
If you notice an electrical hazard, report it to your electricity distributor immediately, either online or by phone.