On 20 September 2014, the pilot of a Piper PA-25 aircraft, registered VH-CPU, conducted a ferry flight from Camden to Bunyan aeroplane landing area, via Goulburn, New South Wales.

After refuelling at Goulburn aerodrome, the pilot tracked to overhead Michelago and continued south towards Bunyan. About 10 km south of Michelago, the pilot intended to overfly a private airstrip to assess its condition and suitability as a potential out-landing site for gliders operating from Bunyan.

The aircraft was heading south and as the airstrip was oriented approximately north-south, the pilot elected to overfly the runway. When about 300 m beyond the runway threshold, the aircraft struck powerlines that crossed the runway about 15 m above ground level, dislodging the windscreen and canopy. The top of the fin was severed by the powerlines. Immediately after the strike, the aircraft banked to the left before returning to level flight. The pilot assessed that the aircraft was too high to land ahead on the remaining runway and made a right turn, initially planning to land towards the north on the adjacent paddock. However, due to the rough surface of the paddock and tailwind, he conducted a short downwind leg before turning to the right, and the aircraft landed into wind on the runway.

The ability of pilots to detect powerlines depends on the physical characteristics of the powerline and the effect of weather conditions. Powerlines may not be contrasted against the surrounding environment and the wire itself can be beyond the resolving power of the eye. Pilots are advised to use additional cues to identify powerlines, such as the power poles and buildings to which the powerlines may connect.


Aviation Short Investigations Bulletin - Issue 38