Aviation Safety

View from aerial patrol plane

Don't wing it with powerlines

Powerlines can pose a safety risk for recreational and general aviation pilots involved in low level flying. Whether you’re involved in aerial application, recreational flying or other aerial activities there are some things you need to know before you fly.

Plan ahead to stay safe – stay clear when powerlines are near

Before flying, familiarise yourself with your flight path and potential overhead electricity network in the area. The Look up and Live app can help you plan work near powerlines. This tool may help minimise contact and reduce the risk of injury or death from electrocution and damage to equipment and our electricity network.

It’s also important to:

  • Discuss powerline locations with property owners
  • Remember that poles, crossarms and stay wires may help in identifying the presence of overhead wires
  • Cross over powerlines at poles or structures rather than mid-span where possible
  • Look out for indicators of possible damage to the network infrastructure such as reduced powerline height, uneven cables, excessive sag, or slack stays - please report damaged powerlines immediately on 132080.
  • Poor weather conditions and flying at dawn or dusk can reduce the visibility of powerlines – consider whether you can reschedule the work if poor weather is forecast.

Aerial powerline markers

Property owners should consider installing overhead powerline markers to increase the visibility of powerlines on the property. These must be fitted by Essential Energy, however they are not suitable for licensed airstrips. You may also be eligible for a $500 rebate from Safe Work NSW for the cost of the markers (if you meet the eligibility requirements). Complete a powerline marker enquiry form.

What to do if your aircraft contacts the electricity network

  • Immediately cut off fuel supply - the danger of electrical accidents is complicated by the presence of fuel, and consequent danger of fire
  • Do not touch overhead or fallen powerlines or anything in contact with them
  • Assume the wires are live, even if they are not sparking
  • Get the power turned off. Call triple zero (000) immediately and ask the first emergency authority to report powerlines down and a life-threatening situation
  • If you are in a grounded aircraft or vehicle, and it is safe to do so, stay inside the cabin. Do not leave the cabin until the power is switched off and you have been given the all clear by an authorised Essential Energy employee
  • Stay eight metres away from fallen powerlines or anything in contact with the wire. Advise bystanders to do the same. The current may travel a significant distance through the ground and even further if the wire has fallen on a metal fence or metal object.

If immediate evacuation is necessary:

  • Jump well clear ensuring you don’t touch the aircraft or vehicle and the ground at the same time. Land with your feet together, and then hop or shuffle away with your feet together until you are at least eight metres clear of the aircraft, vehicle, powerlines or anything else in contact with the network
  • Do not attempt to rescue, or allow others to approach an aircraft or vehicle that is in contact with the electrical network.

For more information email public.safety@essentialenergy.com.au or call 132391 and ask to speak to a member of the Public Safety team.

Fact sheets

Aerial safety
Emergency response to a powerline incident

Useful links

Look Up And Live app
Powerline marker enquiry form
Overhead network maps request form
Visit our Agribusiness safety page