Quick Start Guide Electric Utilities


Overhead Lines: Aircraft & Unmanned Aerial System Wire Strikes Why Address This Issue? The careless operation of general aviation aircraft, particularly small planes, sport craft, helicopters, hot air balloons, and unmanned aerial systems (UAS), results in numerous collisions with overhead electric power lines every year. The risk of aircraft collisions with power lines is of major concern to utilities. These so-called “wire strikes” occur an average of 66 times per year in the United States and comprise approximately 8% of all general aviation incidents. With increased use of unmanned aerial systems, increased public safety awareness on legal and safe use of UAS is necessary. UAS should not be operated near power lines or utility structures, and must be operated within line of sight at all times. Most wire strikes result in the total destruction of the aircraft and severe or fatal injury to occupants. Wires, and often the poles and towers that support them, are difficult and sometimes impossible to see, even if the general location of the wires is known to pilots. Their visibility and the ability to detect and locate them are affected by sunlight, line-masking terrain, and changes in perspective. Helicopters are more susceptible to striking utility wires than planes because they often operate at very low altitudes in close proximity to terrain features, structures, and other facilities. Aircraft operator safety and awareness training may be beneficial in eliminating or reducing incident occurrences.


Developing a Public Safety Communications Program

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