On 27 July 2015, the pilot of an Eagle DW1 aircraft, registered VH-FHP, conducted aerial spraying operations on a property about 77 km southeast of Townsville, Queensland. At about 0930 Eastern Standard Time, the pilot took off to spray the third paddock for that day, overflew the paddock and identified two sets of powerlines. The pilot planned to spray the paddock using a racetrack pattern and flying it in a clockwise direction. One set of powerlines ran parallel to the spray direction, and the other ran across it at the western end. There was a line of trees along those western powerlines, which obscured vision of the power poles.

The pilot completed the first spray run towards the powerlines, overflew them, and then turned to line up for the second spray run. The pilot noted the powerlines ahead, but then diverted their attention to the other powerlines, running parallel to the direction of flight. The pilot also looked inside at the GPS on the dashboard to check the aircraft’s line for the spray run.

The pilot commenced the descent into the paddock through a clearing in the trees and did not see the powerlines at that time. As the aircraft descended, the pilot looked up and suddenly sighted the powerlines. The aircraft struck the wires above the propeller on the wing struts.

The aircraft decelerated rapidly and the wires pulled the aircraft towards the ground. The pilot landed the aircraft with the wings level. The undercarriage sheared off, the propeller struck the ground and the aircraft ground-looped, coming to rest facing the opposite direction. The pilot sustained minor injuries and the aircraft was destroyed.

It is important for pilots to watch continually for any hazards identified in pre-planning. If a pilot is not specifically looking for a hazard, it is unlikely they will notice it.


Aviation Short Investigations Bulletin - Issue 43

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