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Significant Factors

Summary

  1. The pilot turned the helicopter across the powerlines into an area that had not been assessed for hazards.
  2. The turn placed the spur line in the direct flightpath of the helicopter.
  3. The combination of the overcast conditions and the pale colour of the harvest stubble created a condition of low contrast between the powerlines and the surrounding background.
  4. The helicopter was flown at a height that was not sufficient to ensure obstacle clearance.
  5. Although the operator and the pilot had operated in accordance with the existing aviation regulatory requirements, the training that the pilot received to meet those requirements, was inadequate for the task of powerline inspections.
  6. The operator's training and operational procedures for powerline inspections were inadequate.
  7. There were no visual cues or hazard markers present to give an indication to the presence of a hazard in the helicopter flightpath.
  8. The organisational processes within the Network Service Division did not adequately equip its employees to undertake crewmember roles for helicopter powerline inspection operations.

FINAL RECOMMENDATIONS

As a result of the investigation the Australian Transport Safety Bureau issues the following recommendations.

R20010202

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau recommends that the Civil Aviation Safety Authority review the need to develop and mandate competency standards for low-level aircraft operations, including powerline inspection by helicopters.

R20010203

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau recommends that the Civil Aviation Safety Authority consider instituting an education program for the industry highlighting the impending changes to operational standards to be introduced under Civil Aviation Safety Regulation (CASR) Part 61 and its associated elements, in order to give sufficient lead time for early adoption and implementation.

R20010204

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau recommends that Electricity Supply Association of Australia Ltd (ESAA), in conjunction with its members, develop formal Operations and Procedures Manuals to be used by Australian Electrical Supply Businesses employing helicopters to accomplish low level powerline inspection or maintenance tasks. These manuals should have an appropriate quality control audit procedure to ensure that industry accepted best practice is maintained.

R20010205

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau recommends that Electricity Supply Association of Australia (ESAA) in conjunction with its members and in consultation with helicopter operators identified as successful tenderers for low level powerline survey work, adopt or purchase an acceptable training package to be undertaken by power supply company employees prior to tasking on helicopter power line inspections. This training package should include but not be limited to:

  • Safety hazards when working in and around helicopters
  • In flight communication procedures which includes crew resource management (CRM), hazard identification and crew alerting procedures.
  • Identification of fatigue in the workplace.
  • Re-currency training.

R20010206

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau recommends that Electricity Supply Association of Australia Ltd (ESAA), in conjunction with its members and Standards Australia, review the current standard on powerline marking. This review should consider identifying the location of low level flight hazards such as spur junctions on power transmission lines by the fixing of markers to give visual warnings to aeroplanes or helicopters approaching from either direction while engaged in powerline inspection or maintenance operations.

R20010207

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau recommends that Electricity Supply Association of Australia (ESAA) in conjunction with its members develop a requirement for employees identified by Australian Electrical Supply Businesses as candidates for aerial low level powerline inspection duties to undergo medical tests including eye tests. These tests should be of a standard commensurate with their expected duties to be performed as a member of a crew.





























 
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