Light aircraft and powerline accidents soar

Incidents associated with light aircraft and powerlines in regional Queensland have significantly increased 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 11 in the last 12 months.

Ergon Energy executive general manager customer service Paul Jordon said that’s almost one incident a month.

“Most occurred in southern Queensland as farmers turned to aerial applicators for their crops because of ongoing wet weather,” he said.

“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 – and Mr Jordon urged 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,” 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.

“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,” he said.

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