Aviation safety investigations & reports

Examination of the feasibility of the establishment of a single source or database of known powerlines and tall structures

Investigation number:
Status: Completed
Investigation completed


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There were 52 fatalities throughout Australia as a result of wirestrike accidents in the period 1994 to 2006. During that period, there was an average of just under 11 reported wirestrike accidents each year and the average number of fatalities was four per annum.

Despite the application of risk strategies to mitigate the consequences of a wirestrike, those consequences can often be expected to be catastrophic. In that case, a large investment is made by operators, pilots and other parties involved in low-level operations to minimise the likelihood of a wirestrike. That includes by ensuring awareness of all known low-level hazards, including powerlines and tall structures, before commencing, and during the conduct of low-level operations.

During a series of recent ATSB investigations into fatal and other wirestrike accidents, a number of different sources of information on the location of known powerlines and tall structures was identified. However, despite the apparent utility and safety benefits inherent in the availability to pilots, operators and low-level campaign managers of a single source or database of the location of known powerlines and tall structures, initial discussions with aviation authorities on the potential development of such a resource were non-productive.

However, Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) investigators commenced initial discussions with Geoscience Australia (GA) and the Energy Networks Association (ENA) to examine the feasibility of the establishment of such a database. Those discussions determined that GA was amenable to working with other relevant agencies in order to promulgate that data for use by pilots and other parties. ENA indicated that the proposal to establish a national database would be considered as part of its 2008 priority issues.

The ATSB will advise of further developments in its discussions with GA and ENA on its website at 6-monthly intervals.

Download Final Report
[Download  PDF: 169KB]
General details
Date: 02 April 2008   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: Not applicable   Investigation level: Systemic - click for an explanation of investigation levels  
Location: Not applicable    
State: Other    
Release date: 02 April 2008   Occurrence category: Other  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: None  
Last update 03 April 2020