Why have we done this report?

All incidents and accidents affecting aviation safety are required to be reported to the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) under the Transport Safety Investigation Act 2003. However, anecdotal evidence suggested that there has been an under reporting of aviation wirestrikes in Australia by pilots and others in the industry.

To determine if this was the case, electricity distribution and transmission companies and a telecommunications company, who are not responsible for reporting aviation occurrences to the ATSB, were asked to provide the ATSB with data on any aviation wirestrike they were aware of on their network. This report also documents existing initiatives these companies have taken to reduce wirestrikes on their networks.

What the ATSB found

This research investigation found that, based on data from electricity distribution and transmission companies, at least 40 per cent of wirestrike occurrences in Australia between July 2003 and June 2011 had not been reported to the ATSB.

It was also found that many electricity distribution and transmission companies produce safety education material for pilots and land owners warning them of the dangers of wires from the air and from the ground. Others also actively liaise with aerial agricultural and balloon operators to promote strategies in managing wires while flying.

Safety message

It is important that all aviation wirestrikes are reported to the ATSB so that they can be investigated (if required) and so that occurrence details can be collected for research purposes to identify emerging safety trends. Information reported to the ATSB increases our understanding of wirestrikes, the trends, as well as how and why they happen. It is only with reported information that the ATSB can improve aviation safety by establishing the true extent of wirestrikes and determining how and where they occur so that actions can be directed towards the most appropriate areas to reduce wirestrikes.

Pilots and operators involved in a wirestrike occurrence should report to the ATSB. Notifications can be made via the toll free number 1800 011 034 (available 24/7) or via the ATSB notification website.

What's been done?

The ATSB will engage in a range of safety actions aimed at increasing the reporting of wirestrikes. These safety actions include promoting safety messages to the aviation industry, wire infrastructure owners and state regulators with an oversight of powerlines, with respect to the importance of reporting wirestrikes. The ATSB is also proposing changes to the Transport Safety Investigation Regulations 2003 to the Government, which are expected will be agreed and released in September 2012, to make it clearer that all aviation wirestrikes are required to be reported to the ATSB based on the premise that any contact with a wire during flight always has an adverse effect or a potential adverse effect on safety.

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