Tuesday 21 November 2017

Blackout after paraglider hit power lines

Paul Melia

Paul Melia

THE ESB was forced to cut electricity to 87 homes after a paraglider became entangled in power lines.

A report from the Air Accident Investigation Unit (AAIU) found that the incident happened after a pilot decided to practice a forced landing exercise at Salterstown in Co Louth on July 26 last year.

But he overshot the landing point and struck the overhead cables, causing the power blackout.

It said the 52-year old pilot, who was not named, crashed because his choice of landing field was "not optimum" and that he had over-focused on the landing area.

The pilot suffered no injuries in the incident but there was minor damage to the paraglider, including a burn hole to the canopy.

A powered paraglider consists of a canopy similar to a parachute, but designed so it performs like an aircraft wing and generates lift.

The pilot is suspended on an underslung harness, and direction and speed are controlled by pulling on toggles. It is driven by a propeller mounted in a protective cage.

The man, who had 87 hours of experience, took off in his paraglider at 8am, operating at about 500 feet.

After an hour he decided to conduct a landing exercise in a field he had previously used for this purpose "without experiencing any difficulties" before.

But, as he was landing, he noticed he was coming close to power lines. He stopped the engine and turned hard to avoid hitting them, but the canopy, or wing, became entangled in the lines.

"The pilot submitted a completed incident report form to the Air Accident Investigation Unit," the official investigation report said.

The document added: "He candidly stated that he became overly focused on his expected landing spot and had not kept a proper lookout for potential obstacles. He added it would be preferable to pick an obstacle-free field when conducting practice field-landing exercises."

The ESB was forced to de-power the 10KV (10,000 volt) lines to remove the canopy. As a consequence, 87 customers were without electricity for two hours.

Irish Independent

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