Aviation occurrence briefs

Collision with terrain involving Yamaha RMAX RPA, near Muswellbrook, NSW, on 20 November 2018

Status: Completed
Investigation completed


Occurrence Briefs are concise reports that detail the facts surrounding a transport safety occurrence, as received in the initial notification and any follow-up enquiries. They provide an opportunity to share safety messages in the absence of an investigation.

What happened

On 20 November 2018, a Yamaha RMAX remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) was conducting an air work flight in a paddock near Muswellbrook, New South Wales. A ground support officer and navigator/spotter aided the RPA pilot.

The pilot climbed the RPA to provide ample clearance above trees and put the RPA into a hover. The pilot then moved to position himself better for the area of operation. The pilot unknowingly stepped over an electric fence. He received an electric shock, dropping the controller as a result. In the process of dropping the controller, the throttle moved to full negative. The pilot quickly picked up the controller and increased the throttle. The RPA’s descent reduced as a result but not enough to avoid contacting trees. The RPA subsequently collided with the ground resulting in substantial damage. The pilot and support personnel positioned at a safe distance from the accident were not injured.

Safety action

As a result of this occurrence, the operator has made changes to the way electrical fencing is identified and labelled. Crews will also carry an electric fence testing meter to be used at relevant sites.

Safety message

Electric fences along with other distractions and trip hazards need consideration when operating an RPA. Any operation that requires the operator to reposition themselves while operating an RPA increases the risk of trip hazards.

About this report

Decisions regarding whether to conduct an investigation, and the scope of an investigation, are based on many factors, including the level of safety benefit likely to be obtained from an investigation. For this occurrence, no investigation has been conducted and the ATSB did not verify the accuracy of the information. A brief description has been written using information supplied in the notification and any follow-up information in order to produce a short summary report, and allow for greater industry awareness of potential safety issues and possible safety actions.


General details
Date: 20 November 2018   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 1425 AEDT    
Location   (show map): Near Muswellbrook    
State: New South Wales    
Release Date: 21 December 2018   Occurrence category: Accident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: None  

Aircraft details

Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer Yamaha  
Aircraft model RMAX Type IIG  
Type of operation Aerial Work  
Sector Remotely piloted aircraft  
Damage to aircraft Substantial  
Destination Muswellbrook, NSW  
Last update 05 April 2019