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The ATSB's Final Aviation Safety Investigation Report, into a fatal helicopter wire strike accident at Dunedoo, NSW, has found that the pilot and passengers were generally aware of the location of the wire but the helicopter still struck it during its locust control operation. Workload and possible loss of concentration may have contributed.

The pilot was conducting aerial spotting operations in a Bell Helicopter Model 206B on 22 November 2004 in support of locust control operations being administered by the NSW Department of Primary Industries. On board were two employees of the Rural Lands Protection Board (RLPB). As the pilot manoeuvred the helicopter to inspect a band of locusts, the helicopter struck a powerline that was approximately 6.4 meters above ground level. The helicopter impacted the ground on its right side before rolling over. The pilot and one of the employees of the RLPB received fatal injuries and the other employee received serious injuries.

Prior to conducting operations on the property, the pilot conducted aerial reconnaissance with the land owner, during which the wire that the helicopter struck was identified.

As a result of this and other investigations into helicopter accidents during the plague locust control campaign, the ATSB conducted a research study into the risks associated with aerial campaign management. That research report was released in June 2005 and is attached as an appendix to the report into the Bell 206 accident at Dunedoo.

Following this accident, the NSW Department of Primary Industries completed a review of all airborne operations during plague locust control campaigns and introduced revised operating instructions for all helicopters engaged in campaign operations.

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Last update 01 April 2011