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Safety Action

Summary

Operator

The Chief Pilot has amended the company procedures to include the requirement for pilots to restrict the number of persons carried during locust survey operations to two. That was in order to increase the anticipated helicopter power margin, which would decrease the incidence of pilots being constrained to the conduct of heavy, shallow arrivals and departures to/from landing areas.

Civil Aviation Safety Authority

On 31 January 2005, the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) convened a round table discussion to consider potential safety activities relating to the conduct of aerial work in proximity to power cables. The participants in that discussion included representatives from relevant industry associations and other bodies and affected Government departments and agencies.

CASA has commenced planning to facilitate a conference in September 2005 involving relevant industry associations and other bodies and affected Government departments and agencies to further progress those safety issues confronting aerial work operations that were identified during the 31 January 2005 round table discussions.

Subsequent to the release of this report, the ATSB received advice from CASA on 14 July 2005 that due to funding constraints and minimal financial support from those organisations approached to support the conference, the conference would not go ahead. CASA advised further that the Authority would continue to work with the Aerial Agricultural Association of Australia and other relevant organisations in order to progress the safety issues affecting the potential for wire strikes to occur in the aerial work industry.

Aerial Agricultural Association of Australia Limited

The Aerial Agricultural Association of Australia Limited has nominated to be included in the Standards Australia committee responsible for the development of the standards affecting the mapping and marking of power cables and their supporting structures.

The NSW Department of Primary Industries

The NSW DPI has commenced an iterative approach to the review and amendment of the NSW DPI / RLPB SOP for Locust Control. That has included:

  • involving an operator having extensive experience in the conduct of plague locust campaigns in the re-development of the SOP
  • deleting the requirement for low-level flight along tree lines in order to flush adult locusts up and ahead of the helicopter
  • developing standard Task Profiles for the aerial survey and spotting tasks that include the following operating height limitations:
    - locust survey, not below 500 ft AGL
    - locust spotting, not below 100 ft AGL
  • promulgating minimum personal protective equipment requirements for the conduct of locust survey and spotting tasks
  • promulgating a minimum crew composition for locust survey and spotting tasks of one pilot and one aviation trained observer. That observer is to be provided by the aircraft operator, be appropriately trained and have a minimum of 50 hours aviation experience. The aviation trained observer is responsible for assisting the pilot with:
    - the operation of the aircraft
    - identification of hazards and their avoidance
    - mapping identified locust infestations
  • establishing an observer position, which can include carriage of either RLPB / DPI staff or local farmers in the rear of the survey aircraft. If carried, that observer has responsibility for assisting the pilot with:
    - local knowledge, including property boundaries and owners and environmentally sensitive areas
    - identification and mapping of locusts infestations
  • other than approved observers, prohibiting the carriage of back seat passengers
  • prohibiting flight by RLPB / DPI employees below 100 feet AGL
  • amending the flight following and search and rescue procedures.

RLPB and DPI staff members likely to be involved in locust control helicopter operations have completed the National Parks and Wildlife aircraft operations awareness course.

ATSB

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau has commenced a research project that is examining the potential influence of contractual structure and organisational interaction on the safety of aviation campaign operations such as invertebrate pest management and airborne fire-fighting activities. That examination includes the responsibilities for the management of the unique risks inherent to those types of campaign, and seeks to highlight risk mitigation options for consideration by future aviation campaign participants.

When complete, the research project report will be published on the ATSB website www.atsb.gov.au or be available from the Bureau on request.

 
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