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This week’s tragic aircraft accident of a Cessna 182A at Burrum Heads, Queensland highlights the heightened risk of general aviation pilots flying low, and the hazard posed by powerlines. 

On 17 December, witnesses reported seeing a Cessna 182A hit a powerline before colliding with terrain. The pilot—the only person on board the aircraft—died in the accident. The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) completed the on-site phase of its investigation yesterday. While the investigation is still in its early days, preliminary evidence suggests that the aircraft struck a wire while flying at a very low altitude. The low-level flight phase was not part of a landing or take off. 

ATSB General Manager of Aviation Safety Investigations, Mr Ian Sangston, said that low-level flying, especially around powerlines, presents major risks to general aviation pilots. 

‘Unnecessary and unauthorised flying at low altitudes adds an extra level of complexity and danger,’ said Mr Sangston. ‘There are many obstacles to avoid and it creates a much greater risk. That’s why low-level flying requires special training and endorsements, and should never be undertaken without authorisation and a good reason.’

‘This tragedy is a timely reminder for all pilots to consider the dangers of low-level flying and flying around wires.’

The ATSB investigation team is seeking witness reports including any video footage that might assist with the investigation. Witnesses can call the ATSB on 1800 020 616

The ATSB’s Avoidable Accident booklet series provides important advice to pilots on low-level flying and wirestrikes. The booklets Wirestrikes involving known wires: A manageable aerial agriculture hazard and Low-level flying can be found on the ATSB website at www.atsb.gov.au

Details of the investigation AO-2012-170 are also available on the ATSB website. 

Media contact: 1800 020 616
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Last update 20 December 2012