On 15 October 2013, the pilot of an Air Tractor AT‑502 aircraft, registered VH‑CJY, was preparing to conduct aerial spraying operations about 33 km west of Temora, New South Wales. 

The owner of the property had provided the pilot with a map of the area to be sprayed, which included power lines. There was a road and a row of trees to the south of the paddock, with double power lines (as marked on the map) about 130 m north of the tree-line. The pilot planned to fly over the trees and under the power lines on each leg, before turning to commence the next run.

At about 1730 Eastern Daylight-saving Time, when to the south of the paddock at about 15-20 ft above ground level (AGL), after turning to commence the next run, the pilot saw a cross arm indicating the presence of a wire attached to a derelict homestead. He decided not to climb the aircraft as it would have collided with the larger double power lines. The pilot then heard a bang, with the aircraft’s propeller spinner contacting the wire.

The pilot flew the aircraft under the double power lines and climbed to about 150 ft AGL. The engine was vibrating, but continued to produce power. The engine then steadily lost power. The pilot secured the engine and conducted a forced landing in a paddock. During the landing, the aircraft ground-looped and the left wing contacted the ground. The aircraft was substantially damaged and the pilot received nil injuries.

The pilot did not see the wire at any stage, nor was it marked on the map provided to the pilot by the property owner.

Aviation Short Investigation Bulletin - Issue 24