Recommendation R19970178

Recommendation issued to: Windsock Productions

Recommendation details
Output No: R19970178
Date issued: 13 February 1998
Safety action status:


Powerline markings and aerodrome information.


The aircraft, a PA 38-112 Tomahawk, was on final approach for a landing at Torquay (Vic.) ALA when it struck powerlines. The aircraft suffered significant damage from the powerlines and further damage from the impact with the ground. The pilot and his passenger (also a pilot) were not harmed.


AERODROME MARKINGS: The Torquay airport operator had placed displaced landing threshold markers some way into the landing strip of runway 18 to establish a safe approach gradient over the powerlines. These markers were painted white, as were the runway edge markers, which extended the full length of the runway surface. The colouring of the airfield surface, at the end of a hot dry summer, did not provide adequate contrast to allow the pilot to see the white landing threshold markers against the dry grassed surface of the runway. The aerodrome was marked correctly, however, the local dry conditions contributed to the accident by preventing easy identification of the displaced threshold.

AERODROME INFORMATION: The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) Airports Directory contains information supplied by the aerodrome operator on a survey form supplied by AOPA. That survey form does not follow the example on page 55 of the Airservices Australia publication, the Enroute Supplement Australia, in that it does not list any examples of hazards that need to be considered. An airport owner may not consider relevant or cover all the hazards associated with the aerodrome unless there was just such a list to refer to. The information published for Torquay did not mention powerlines or any displaced landing thresholds.

Before departing for Torquay the pilot had studied the AOPA airfield directory and phoned the operator for approval to land. He also asked about local conditions and was informed of parachute operations that day. The pilot did not ask, nor was he told about any powerlines or displaced thresholds. The pilot and his passenger were familiar with the runway layout having flown over the aerodrome previously, however neither had landed at the aerodrome. Approaching Torquay they had heard another aircraft broadcast that it was landing on runway 18 so they joined crosswind for that runway, noting as they flew overhead the worn take-off threshold area adjacent to the fence.

The pilot followed the correct procedure by telephoning the airport prior to departure, however when questioned later by the investigator, the operator advised that he had not brought the power line or the displaced threshold to the attention of the pilot. Also, the operator later advised that the correct details and a diagram could be found in the other private airfield directory, the Country Airstrips Guide. He did not check which guide the pilot was using.

The Enroute Supplement lists items to be covered by pilots before a safe operation can be conducted into an unfamiliar aerodrome. Listed below are the specific obstacles, hazards and special procedures used as examples in ERSA, along with further items that may need to be considered (this list is by no means meant to be comprehensive).

Obstacles: - Powerlines, trees, buildings, terrain, roads, railways, fences, windmills, towers and masts etc.
Hazards:- Turbulence, updraughts, downdraughts, livestock, birds, wildlife, long dry/wet grass, effect of recent rain (e.g. washouts or soft spots), ditches, drains, earth mounds, tree stumps, vehicles, anthills, animal burrows, non-standard markings, rough areas and obstacles hidden by long grass etc.
Special Procedures:- Circuit direction, noise sensitive areas (eg cattle yards or homes), sport aviation and displaced thresholds etc.

- Powerlines in the vicinity of some aerodromes and landing areas are not adequately marked.
- Under some conditions, aerodrome colouring can make runway markers difficult to distinguish, particularly if the pilot is unaware of displaced thresholds.
- A pilot that does not have access to detailed information regarding local conditions may not be able to conduct safe operations into an unfamiliar aerodrome.

Output text

That Windsock Productions amend the Country Airstrips Guide survey form to include, as examples, specific mention of the obstacles, hazards and special procedures detailed earlier.

Initial response
Date issued: 30 April 1998
Response from: Windsock Productions
Action status: Closed - Accepted
Response text:

Sorry for the delay in answering your recommendations but we have been snowed under getting the updates on the Country Airstrip Guides ready for inclusion in the new editions.

We have taken on board your recommendations & have included a current update sheet for your perusal, together with an amended form for any new airstrips. This form will be updated in the next month or so, showing the wording in a larger format but this was the best we could do for the present.

Last update 01 April 2011