Powerlines are hard to see from the air, which makes them a serious hazard during low-level flying operations. Before you take off, practice safe work habits by identifying all powerlines and taking steps to reduce your risk of contact. You should also know what actions to take if you do make contact with powerlines.
How to work safe when flying near powerlines
Any accidental contact between your plane and powerlines could cause injury or death. If you’re flying near powerlines, ‘take care, stay line aware’ and use the following safe work habits every time you fly.
Before you take off:
- Know the location of powerlines on and around the property and immediate surroundings
- Use our Look up and Live map to identify powerline locations along your route
- Ensure all new members of the crew are inducted and understand potential electrical hazards
- Conduct a pre-flight briefing and reconnaissance
- Consider weather conditions, which can affect visibility or cause the powerlines to move or sag
- Provide ground barriers to warn crew of the presence of powerlines and electrical infrastructure, where appropriate.
During your flight:
- Apply appropriate flying techniques
- Maintain situational awareness for co-pilot and crew
- If flying with others, read the physical structure indicators, e.g. poles and insulators and identify verbally all structures
- Avoid deviating from low-flying routes or leaving areas that have been previously checked for powerlines
- Cross over powerlines above poles or structures rather than mid–span, where possible
- Be aware of reduced powerline heights resulting from damage, often indicated by uneven cables, excessive sag or slack
- Stay well clear of damaged powerlines and report them immediately by calling triple zero (000).
How to request powerline markers
To improve visibility from the air, ask the property owner to install rota markers on overhead powerlines. Powerline warning markers should be installed anywhere regular low-level flying operations take place. The responsibilities for powerline markers are covered under Australian Standard 3891.2.
- The person who requests planned low-level flying operations (e.g. the landowner) is responsible for requesting installation of markers
- The pilot or pilot’s delegate should be satisfied as to the need for and effectiveness of markers before commencing low-level operations
- Aerial markers should only be installed, maintained or removed by us.
Request installation of markers by submitting our Powerline Hazard Identifier Application Form (PDF 139.5 kb). You can contact us on 13 74 66 for more advice.
To improve visibility of power poles and other electrical structures, you can also request permission from us to paint them. Once permission is granted, you can paint the lower section of the pole (up to 2.4 metres above ground) with white and red alternating bands.
Read more about Marking overhead powerlines and electrical assets. (PDF 1.8 mb)
What to do in an accident
If your plane brings down powerlines, follow your pilot’s training. To keep yourself and your crew safe, take the following steps:
- Assume that powerlines or cables are ‘live’, even if they are not sparking
- Don’t touch or attempt to move powerline cables
- Call triple zero (000) immediately
- Be aware that electricity could cause fuel to ignite, causing a fire.
If it is safe to stay inside the cabin:
- Don’t leave the aircraft until an authorised electricity distribution employee has confirmed that the power is switched off and you are given the all clear
- Instruct bystanders to stay at least 10 metres away from the aircraft or anything else in contact with the powerlines.
If you need to evacuate:
- Access your escape route and check for fallen powerlines
- Jump well clear and land with your feet together. Be careful not to stumble or fall and don’t touch the aircraft and the ground at the same time
- Jump or shuffle away with your feet together until you are at least 10 metres clear of the aircraft, powerlines or anything else in contact with them
- Once clear, do not return to the aircraft for any reason.
IMPORTANT: Never approach, attempt to rescue or allow others to approach an aircraft in contact with powerlines. Call triple zero (000) immediately to report the incident.
Want more information?
If you have more questions, you might find answers in our Frequently Asked Questions (PDF 124.2 kb).
Safety fact sheets
Download our fact sheets for information about flying safely near powerlines:
- Low-level flying (PDF 1.4 mb)
- Powerline markers (PDF 1.8 mb)
- Look Up and Live – Exclusion zones (PDF 614.2 kb)
- Fire and powerlines (PDF 1.4 mb) (only available to download)
To order factsheets in industry packs, use our brochure & sticker order form.
Other forms and guidelines
Links to some popular request forms and information.