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Light aircraft and powerline accidents soar - land owners urged to install markers

Published: 3 Aug 2016 2:13pm

Incidents associated with light aircraft and powerlines in regional Queensland have soared this year according to Ergon Energy.

A helicopter accident involving powerlines near Blackhall recently is the latest in a series of incidents bringing the total to eleven in the last twelve months Executive General Manager Customer Service Paul Jordon said.

“That’s almost one incident a month which is too high. Most occurred in southern Queensland as farmers turned to aerial applicators for their crops because of ongoing wet weather.

“Some of these incidents could have been avoided had property owners had warning markers installed on powerlines that cross their properties – especially where light aircraft are used often,” he said.

It is the responsibility of landowners to have markers installed to potentially mitigate hazards and risks associated with machinery and aircraft working near powerlines.

Ergon Energy has a range of overhead warning markers that can be installed to help identify overhead powerlines – particularly in areas of frequent light aircraft use.

“We urge landowners to have them installed to reduce the risk of accidents. The cost for markers and their installation is not expensive and our field staff can install them simply and easily from the ground. Property owners should call 13 74 66 and ask for safety advice.

“Those property owners with private powerlines should contact an electrical contractor. Under no circumstances should property owners attempt to install markers on powerlines,” he said.

Regardless of whether powerline markers are installed or not, Mr Jordon said pilots involved in low level flying operations including aerial application, mustering, hot air ballooning and powered parachutes should establish strategies to maintain adequate situational awareness.

They include:

  • conducting a pre-flight briefing
  • undertake a pre-flight reconnaissance
  • use memory and awareness
  • apply appropriate flying techniques
  • read the physical structure indicators, eg poles and insulators
  • identify verbally all structures if flying with others
  • consider weather conditions
  • guard against deviating from low-flying routes and areas that have been previously checked for powerlines and other cables

“People often take powerlines and their locations for granted and that’s why Ergon will continue to work with and educate the aviation industry about the potential dangers of working around electrical infrastructure.

“However pilots or machinery operators should still take personal responsibility for their own safety,” he said.

Media Contact: John Fowler
Phone: 07 44328730

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