Power networks available to pilots

Fatal wire strike crash of a Cessna 182a in 2012. Source: ATSB

A New South Wales energy company has released maps of its electrical network to help pilots avoid collisions with power lines.

Essential Energy is reminding pilots, including drone operators, to pre-plan their flights and identify overhead electricity networks before flying activities such as aerial spraying, firefighting and mustering.

‘One incident is too many when it comes to aircraft contacting power lines,’ says David Nardi, Essential Energy’s General Manager of Safety, HR and Environment.

‘So it pays to remain vigilant when conducting aerial activities of any kind.

‘Essential Energy’s network is vast—spanning 95 per cent of New South Wales— and environmental factors such as storms, wind and vegetation can cause network damage, altering conditions for pilots,’ he adds.

Last year, Australia’s transport safety investigator called on general aviation pilots to make smarter decisions in the air and before flight, identifying wire strikes as one of seven avoidable accidents.

In one fatal accident the ATSB reminded pilots of the dangers of low flying:

Pilots who choose to fly below this height without an operational reason to do so are exposing themselves, and any passengers that may be on board, to an increased risk of striking power lines, many of which are difficult to see from the cockpit of an aircraft in flight. The circumstances of this accident highlight that risk.

Maps of Essential Energy’s overhead electricity network are available via its website or by calling 13 23 91. All incidents in NSW involving overhead power lines should be reported to Essential Energy immediately on 13 20 80 or triple zero if the situation is life threatening.

More information and resources on how to avoid collisions with power lines can be found via the Civil Aviation Safety Authority’s website.


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