Aviation safety investigations & reports

Wirestrike involving a Kavanagh G-450 balloon, VH-RUW, Mareeba, Qld on 7 February 2016

Investigation number:
Status: Completed
Investigation completed

Final Report

Download Final Report
[Download  PDF: 223KB]

On 7 February 2016, the pilot of a Kavanagh G-450 balloon, registered VH-RUW, conducted a 30-minute scenic flight from Mareeba, Queensland with 18 passengers on board.

Shortly before 0627 Eastern Standard Time, the balloon approached the target landing area. The pilot referred to his iPad, which showed the location of the balloon and a set of powerlines strung across the paddock.

The pilot sighted two power poles either side of the landing area, but was unable to see the wires. The pilot estimated where the wires would be based on the crossbars on the poles, and assessed that the balloon had sufficient height to pass over the powerlines. The pilot then sighted the powerlines, about half a metre ahead of and below the basket. The pilot applied all four burners to try to climb and avoid the powerlines, but the left side of the basket contacted one wire, breaking it.

Due to the amount of heat in the balloon, the balloon was climbing. The pilot then conducted a normal controlled descent and landing into a paddock about 500 m beyond the original planned landing site. The balloon landed without further incident and no one was injured. The wicker basket sustained scorching and a stainless steel cable fixed to the underside of the basket sustained arc damage.

The ATSB research report, Wirestrikes involving known wires: A manageable aerial agriculture hazard, explains a number of strategies to assist pilots manage the risk of wirestrikes.


Aviation Short Investigations Bulletin - Issue 48

Download Final Report
[Download  PDF: 223KB]

Read report


To download, click the link, then right-click and select Save As.

Copyright in material obtained from other agencies, private individuals or organisations, belongs to those agencies, individuals or organisations and should be credited accordingly.

General details
Date: 07 February 2016   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 06:40 EST   Investigation level: Short - click for an explanation of investigation levels  
Location   (show map): near Mareeba Aerodrome (Byrnes Rd)    
State: Queensland   Occurrence type: Wirestrike  
Release date: 27 May 2016   Occurrence category: Serious Incident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: None  

Aircraft details

Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer Kavanagh Balloons  
Aircraft model G-450  
Aircraft registration VH-RUW  
Serial number G450-401  
Type of operation Ballooning  
Sector Balloon  
Damage to aircraft Minor  
Destination Mareeba, Qld  
Last update 14 November 2018