The Australian Aerial Applicators Association has been working closely with powerline safety designers Balmoral Engineering and electricity companies Ergon Energy and Essential Energy to install new powerline markers that significantly boost powerline visibility.
In addition, powerline network maps are now available in both Queensland and New South Wales through the Ergon app and Essential Energy downloadable maps. Most operators in those states have now integrated these maps into their planning systems.
Mapping and marking of wires have been identified by AAAA as critical safety actions that will help protect low-level pilots flying crops, pasture and fires.
The Balmoral ROTAMARKA™ is a unique device that clamps onto powerlines common on farms and in rural areas. It is seen as one of the best products on the market in Australia with its high contrast elements, three-dimensional form and ability to rotate in light breezes.
AAAA hopes to assist Balmoral and the power companies to make a breakthrough into mainstream farmer safety programs to increase the number of markers being installed to warn against wires not only for pilots, but for trucks, headers, pickers and augers – all of which figure prominently in wire strikes across the nation.
AAAA CEO Phil Hurst says the rest of the country now has a very effective working model for powerline marking using the Balmoral Engineering ROTAMARKA™ which can be installed using an industry standard insulated stick and Balmoral attachment tool from the ground – further reducing costs for farmers. The marker is also compliant with Australia Standard AS 3891- 2 which AAAA helped rewrite.
“We believe this product makes a real difference to our pilots and we awarded our Leland Snow Innovation Award to Balmoral Engineering last year for their ongoing development of a great product.
“Our members worked with us to conduct pilot assessment trials of the spinning markers at two sites at Moree (NSW) and Dalby (Qld) to field test effectiveness under different real-world conditions.
“We found not only did markers improved the pilot’s ability to attain and hold the wire in their vision, it also assisted in the challenge of keeping the wire in short term memory.
“AAAA independent pilot tests have demonstrated the ROTAMARKA™ makes difficult-to-see powerlines visible from up to 1200 metres (1300 yards – the distance limit of the AAAA trials).
“Importantly, we found the ability to select different colours to contrast with different backgrounds gives the marker greater flexibility – and can even help colour blind pilots who might struggle to see a red/orange marker,” concludes Hurst.
The ROTAMARKA™ is manufactured by Balmoral Engineering and is gathering rapid momentum in improving safety. In Tasmania, the marker is also being widely used to protect birds from hitting wires.
Interest is now spreading to the USA because of the agricultural similarities between the two countries. Balmoral is excited in seeing the global interest in their ROTAMARKA™ with some electrical utilities in the USA now also leading the way.
Balmoral’s Business Development Manager Gordon Hedges said that Balmoral had responded to requests from electrical utilities for a better product to mark powerlines, designing a better clamping system, rotating ball-bearing multi-colour marker and insulated stick and fittings for installation.
“The Balmoral team went to work, gathering information and consulting industry experts and pilots with compliance to Aviation Standards. The key advantage, in addition to very high visibility due to rotating colours, is the marker can be fitted live-line by a single person.
“Our aim was to design a purpose-built product that could help mitigate powerline strikes in the agricultural Industry that was cost effective to install. This was in-line with our core business values and product range in preserving life,” remarks Hedges.
Balmoral marker utility trials in hot spot areas have reduced incidents for some utilities to zero.
If you would like to contact Balmoral Engineering or view our markers in operation on video, please follow this link: https://balmoralengineering.com/video-library/
AAAA Phil Hurst – CEO 61 2 62412100 www.aaaa.org.au
Balmoral Engineering Gordon Hedges – Business Development Manager 61 2 9482 4000 www.balmoralengineering.com
These ROTAMARKA™ make spotting this powerline much easier.
A Thrush approaches a set of wires that have been marked by Balmoral’s ROTAMARKA™ powerline marker.