Powerlines can be hard to see from the air, which can make them very dangerous when you’re conducting low-level flying operations. Before you take off, practice safe work habits by identifying powerlines and taking steps to reduce the risk of contact. You should also know what to do in case you make contact.
How to work safe when flying near powerlines
Any accidental contact between your plane and powerlines could cause injury or death. If you’re flying near powerlines, ‘take care, stay line aware’. and use the following safe work habits for use every time you fly.
Before you take off:
- Know the location of powerlines on and around the property or the area you are flying in
- Use our Look up and Live map to identify powerline locations along your route
- Ensure all new members of the crew are inducted on the risks so they understand potential electrical hazards with powerlines
- Conduct a pre-flight briefing and do a pre-flight reconnaissance
- Consider weather conditions, which can affect visibility or cause the powerlines to move or sag
- Provide ground barriers to warn crew of the presence of powerlines and electrical infrastructure, where appropriate.
During your flight:
- Apply appropriate flying techniques
- Maintain situational awareness for co-pilot and crew
- If flying with others, read the physical structure indicators, eg poles and insulators and identify verbally all structures
- Avoid deviating from low-flying routes and areas that have been previously checked for powerlines and other cables
- Cross over powerlines at poles or structures rather than mid–span where possible
- Be aware of reduced powerline heights resulting from damage, often indicated by uneven cables, excessive sag or slack stays
- Stay well clear of damaged powerlines and report damage immediately by calling triple zero (000).
How to request powerline markers
You can ask the property owner to install rota markers on overhead powerlines and stay wires to improve visibility from the air. Powerline warning markers should be installed where regular low-level flying operations take place. The responsibilities for this requirement are covered under Australian Standard 3891.2:
- The person who requests planned low-level flying operations (e.g. the landowner) is responsible for requesting installation of markers. Contact us on 13 12 53 for safety advice or to arrange marker installation.
- The pilot or pilot’s delegate should be satisfied as to the need for and effectiveness of markers before commencing low-level operations
- Aerial markers should only be installed, maintained or removed by us.
You can also request permission to paint power poles and other electrical structures to improve visibility. This involves painting the lower section of the pole up to 2.4 metres above ground with white and red alternating 600mm bands of paint.
Read more about Marking overhead powerlines and electrical assets. (PDF 1.8 mb)
What to do in an accident
If your plane brings down powerlines, follow your pilot’s training. To keep you and your crew safe, remember:
- Assume that powerlines or cables are ‘live’, even if they are not sparking
- Don’t touch powerline cables or attempt to remove them
- Call triple zero (000) immediately to report powerlines down and a life threatening situation
- Be aware that electricity could cause fuel to ignite, causing a fire.
If it is safe to stay inside the cabin:
- Don’t leave your aircraft until the power is switched off and you have been given the all clear by an authorised electricity distribution employee
- Keep bystanders at least 10 metres away from the aircraft and anything else in contact with the powerlines.
If you need to evacuate:
- Access your escape route and check for fallen powerlines
- Jump well clear and land with your feet together. Be careful not to stumble or fall and don’t touch the aircraft and the ground at the same time
- Jump or shuffle away with your feet together until you are at least 10 metres clear of the aircraft, powerlines or anything else in contact with them
- Once clear, DO NOT go back to the aircraft for any reason.
IMPORTANT: Never approach, attempt to rescue or allow others to approach an aircraft in contact with powerlines. Call triple zero (000) immediately to report the incident.
Want more information?
Safety fact sheets
Download our fact sheets for information about flying safely near powerlines:
- Low-level flying (PDF 1.4 mb)
- Powerline markers (PDF 1.8 mb)
- Look Up and Live – Exclusion zones (PDF 614.2 kb)
- Fire and powerlines (PDF 1.4 mb) (only available to download)
To order factsheets in industry packs, use our brochure & sticker order form.
Other forms and guidelines
Links to some popular request forms and information.