The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) was recently notified of two separate wire strike accidents involving Robinson R44 helicopters conducting agricultural spray operations.
The first accident occurred on the morning of Tuesday 15 December near Te Anga, west of Te Kuiti. The helicopter’s main rotor blade struck electricity supply wires and then landed in a clearing. The pilot was uninjured. Power was disrupted to around 18 homes.
The second accident occurred on Wednesday 16 December, involving another Robinson R44 helicopter conducting spray operations on the Mahia Peninsula. The helicopter’s skid struck wires and contacted the ground heavily. The pilot received moderate injuries and was flown to hospital for assessment.
The CAA is investigating both accidents with the co-operation of the two operators involved.
Any aircraft flying at low levels is at risk of a wire strike. Agricultural aircraft, whether fixed wing or helicopter, are especially susceptible due to the nature of the work they do.
Wire strikes are preventable, but only with a well-planned safety programme to identify hazards and put mitigations in place.
With Worksafe NZ, Federated Farmers, and ACC, the CAA developed an information sheet [PDF 170 KB] providing basic guidance on how to manage wire hazards.
For more advice about wire safety, the following industry bodies have further guidance.
New Zealand Agricultural Aviation Association(external link)
Helicopter Association International(external link)
‘Down to the wire’ campaign(external link)
‘Let's get em down’ campaign(external link)
Contact CAA media team for further information:
027 763 0000 | firstname.lastname@example.org