We refer to the revised copy of the Air Safety Occurrence
200100252 which was forwarded to us on 28 February 2002.
We note the final recommendations made in this report, in
particular R20010204, R20010205, R20010206 and R20010207 ("the
Recommendations"). We advise that the Recommendations, as currently
worded, could be misleading as to the role the Electricity Supply
Association of Australia ("ESAA") has within the Electricity Supply
Industry, its powers and capabilities.
We appreciate that this report is finalised but in light of the
Recommendations, we believe it is necessary to:
Clarify the powers of ESAA;
Clarify the role of ESAA within the Electricity Supply Industry;
Formally bring to your attention the capability of ESAA in acting
on the Recommendations.
ESAA is a representative and advisory body. Its members are public
and privately owned businesses involved in the generation,
transmission, distribution and supply of electricity in Australia.
Its mission is to represent the interests of those electricity
businesses in an open electricity market.
ESAA is not a regulatory body and has no powers to enforce its
advice to its members. It does, however, play a role in providing
its members with relevant information. This includes drafting
guidelines relating to safety issues in the electricity supply
industry. It is in this context that ESAA in August 1995 developed
guidelines for the use of helicopters for live line work.
Consistent with ESAA's role as a representative and advisory body,
members of ESAA are not bound in any way to accept the contents of
ESAA guidelines for inclusion in their work practices or
procedures. ESAA works closely with its members in developing
guidelines on safety issues, but ultimately whether or not members
adopt any particular work practices or procedures is a matter for
them to decide having regard to the relevant issues facing their
Further Action by ESAA
It is important to emphasise that ESAA cannot enforce any of the
Recommendations with its members or be compelled to enforce them.
Neither can ESAA require any of its members to take any action in
connection with the steps that ESAA may decide to take to assist
the ATSB in implementing the Recommendations.
In the context of the comments made above, we advise that ESAA is
able to take the action detailed below to assist the ATSB in
achieving the Recommendations.
1. R20010204,20010205 and 20010207
ESAA will address the content of these three recommendations as
ESAA has a National Electricity Network Steering Committee, which
as part of its activities develops national guidelines and codes
for the electricity supply industry. This body has been consulted
and has agreed to set up a national working group to develop a
guideline for " The use of Helicopters for low level power line
inspection and maintenance work." The scope of the working group 's
task will be to develop a guideline which takes into account but is
not limited to the following issues:
1] Safety hazards when working in and around helicopters.
2) In-flight communication procedures which include crew resource
management (CRM), hazard identification and crew alerting
3) Personnel selection training - including medical tests ie. Eye
4) Identification of fatigue in the workplace
5) Re-currency training.
Other aspects to be considered, include - minimum standards and
responsibilities, work procedures, the selection of the helicopter
and equipment, approach distances, general work practice and work
considerations ie. Weather, work team communications , public
safety and line hazard identification and also procedures in the
event of an incident.
ESAA has already gathered a range of materials from its members
dealing With the above and expects that the guidelines proposed can
be developed within 12 months. As with all such guidelines ESAA
members are free to decide whether or not to adopt them in their
work practices or procedures.
In addition to the above, ESAA will ensure that the Report as it is
described on the ATSB web-site is distributed to each of its
The following response was sent to the ESAA on 02 December
Thank you for the letter dated 15 April 2002 , in response to our
recommendations arising from Occurrence Report 200100252, a fatal
helicopter accident in Bencubbin Western Australia.
In a meeting between the ATSB and you in Canberra on the 23 October
2001, the ESAA's role within the electrical industry was explained
in detail to us. While we understood that our recommendations could
not be given any power of enforcement by the ESAA, it was
nevertheless considered that the best method of dissemination of
these recommendations to the industry was through the ESAA and its
subcommittees. This was also true of any later coordination, by the
National Electricity Network Steering Committee, of effort to
respond on an industry wide basis.
For these reasons, the ESAA was considered ideally situated to
assist in the promotion of our common goal of a safer industry work
environment for both the aviation and the electrical industry
personnel involved in these low level-flying tasks.
We thank you for your efforts in this regard and look forward to
the development over the coming months of the guidelines alluded to
in your letter. Hopefully, with industry wide participation in
their formulation, it may be that industry wide voluntary adoption
of these guidelines will merely be a formality.
I would be pleased if you could keep the ATSB informed as to the
progress of these activities. To this end, if not contacted sooner,
I would like to correspond with you further on these matters at the
end of your proposed development period, that is around April
If you have any queries please contact Investigator in
02 December 2002
The following is a copy of the follow up letter to the ESAA dated
23rd April 2003:
On Friday 11th April 2003, the West Australian Deputy Coroner
handed down her findings into the deaths of Western Power
Corporation employee and Preston Helicopter pilot, who died in the
helicopter power line strike accident at Bencubbin in January 200
1. In her findings, she made several recommendations with regard to
Wire Strike Protection System (WSPS) fitment to helicopters engaged
in low level flight, power pole marking in a cross-country
background and power company personnel training m workplace hazard
This tragic event also generated several safety recommendations
issued by the ATSB to the ESAA which have been under consideration
by an ESAA National Electricity Network Steering Committee (NENSC)
for this past year. As I alluded to in my previous communication of
02 December last year, I am now corresponding to inquire as to the
progress of the NENSC at the passing of this twelve-month
The investigator in charge (IIC) of this accident has also been in
communication with a member of the NENSC working group in Brisbane,
and understands much valuable work has been accomplished on the
draft of a new ESAA document 'National Guidelines for Aerial
Surveillance of Overhead Electricity Networks" (AS), of which a
copy was kindly supplied. The IIC has, in turn, provided a copy of
the Coroner's findings and recommendations arising from her
I understand the draft AS document dated 24 February 2003 is close
to its final form and addresses many of the ATSB recommendations
directed to the ESAA. When ratified, this document will be a
significant safety tool to enhance AS flight operations throughout
Could you please advise the ATSB of ESAA's expected timetable for
ratification and industry adoption of this document? It would also
be appreciated if a copy of the accepted document in its final form
could be forwarded to the ATSB for inclusion on the file. This
information will enable the responsible IIC to close the relevant
ESAA safety recommendations and finalise the investigation.
If you have any queries please contact the IIC.