Aviation safety investigations & reports

Wirestrike; 15km east of Parkes Aerodrome, NSW; VH-MFI, Bell Helicopter Co 206B (III)

Investigation number:
Status: Completed
Investigation completed


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On 2 February 2006, a Bell Helicopter Co 206B (III), registered VH-MFI arrived at Parkes Aerodrome from Dubbo, NSW in preparation for an aerial noxious weeds survey, including the requirement for a closer inspection of the eastern border area of the Parkes Shire Council. At an estimated 0923 Eastern Daylight-saving time, the pilot took off for the estimated 7 to 8 minutes flight to the survey area. Also onboard the helicopter were two council weeds control officers.

Witness reports indicated that, at about 0930, the helicopter struck a powerline that crossed the Parkes to Orange road.

The occupants of the helicopter were fatally injured and the helicopter was destroyed by impact forces and a post-impact, fuel-fed fire. There was no damage to the powerline or associated facilities and structures.

As a result of this investigation, the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) indicated that it was considering the development of a Civil Aviation Order (CAO) with the effect that anyone carrying out low-level operations would have to satisfy relevant low-level flying standards.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) issued two recommendations as a result of this investigation, including: the possible enhancement of the content of CASA's Approval to conduct Low-flying Instruments and the possible development of a Civil Aviation Advisory Publication or Advisory Circular for application in the conduct of low-level operations. In addition, the ATSB has commenced initial discussions with a number of agencies and associations in order to examine the feasibility of the establishment of a national database of information on the location of known powerlines and tall structures for access by pilots, operators and managers of aerial campaigns.

Aviation Safety Recommendations

[R20070013] [R20070014]

Download Final Report
[Download  PDF: 993KB]


Preliminary report released 22 March 2006

On 2 February 2006, a Bell Helicopter Company 206B (III) aircraft, registered VH-MFI, was being operated in the area east of Parkes, NSW on a noxious weed identification survey at low-level, for a local council. At about 0930 Eastern Daylight-saving Time, the helicopter was observed to strike a powerline about 130 ft above ground level (Figure 1), in a location known as 'The Dungeons', approximately 23 km east of Parkes. All three occupants were fatally injured.

Figure 1: Powerline running between arrow heads

Figure 1: Powerline running between arrow heads

Examination of the wreckage revealed that the helicopter struck the powerline with the left landing gear skid (Figure 2).

Figure 2: Landing skid wire contact marks

Figure 2: Landing skid wire contact marks

This led to the tail boom and tail rotor assembly being severed from the fuselage by the main rotor (Figure 3), as a result of which the helicopter entered an uncontrolled descent from which recovery was not possible. The helicopter was destroyed by impact forces and post-impact fire.

Figure 3: Severed tail rotor section

Figure 3: Severed tail rotor section

A witness reported that the helicopter appeared to be operating normally until it struck the powerline. The pilot was qualified to undertake the flight and the helicopter was being operated within the manufacturer's prescribed weight and centre of gravity limits.

The investigation is continuing and will include examination of:

  • low-level operational planning by the council and the helicopter operator
  • low-level obstacle information databases, and the accessibility of database information to low level operators, aircrew, and contractors.
General details
Date: 02 February 2006   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 0930 ESuT   Investigation level: Systemic - click for an explanation of investigation levels  
Location   (show map): 15km E Parkes, Aerodrome    
State: New South Wales   Occurrence type: Wirestrike  
Release date: 03 August 2007   Occurrence category: Accident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: Fatal  

Aircraft details

Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer Bell Helicopter Co  
Aircraft model 206  
Aircraft registration VH-MFI  
Serial number 1060  
Type of operation Aerial Work  
Sector Helicopter  
Damage to aircraft Destroyed  
Departure point Parkes, NSW  
Departure time 0910 ESuT  
Destination Parkes, NSW  
Crew details
Role Class of licence Hours on type Hours total
Pilot-in-Command Commercial 1250 2209.6
  Crew Passenger Ground Total
Fatal: 1 2 0 3
Total: 1 2 0 3
Last update 03 April 2020