Aviation plays an important part in the agricultural economy and firefighting in New Zealand. However, between 1979 and 2015, helicopter pilots alone had 116 wire strikes resulting in 28 deaths. While people on the ground can generally see wires, they can often be invisible to pilots of low flying aircraft.
Pilots don’t look for the hard to see wires they look for the poles holding them up. ‘The major concern is wires erected by farmers,’ said Alan Beck, Chairman of the NZ Agricultural Aviation Association. They present the greatest risk to aviation because they can run across gullies, and can be attached to obscure poles or even trees. To make it worse, some manufacturers even produce green covered wire.
To address this, the NZ Agricultural Aviation Association, three years ago, introduced ‘Down to the Wire’. ‘This safety education programme has been developed by the industry for the industry’ said Beck .
‘Down to the Wire’ encourages landowners and farmers to remove wires because they pose a danger to pilots.
The programme encourages best practice – all wires erected by farmers should be tied to an existing fence so that they do not extend above the fence. Disused wires should be removed completely.
For more information, go to http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PO1608/S00081/wires-kill-pilots.htm