Aerotec managing director Lynette Zuccoli examines damage to a CT/4E air trainer caused by a flying fox.
Aerotec managing director Lynette Zuccoli examines damage to a CT/4E air trainer caused by a flying fox. Dave Noonan

Skilled pilot averts crash after collision with flying fox

A PILOT whose plane collided with a flying fox just after take-off has managed to regain control of the craft and avoid disaster.

The plane had climbed about 30 metres in the air and reached a speed of about 200kmh when the animal smashed into the wing on Wednesday night.

The incident caused thousands of dollars worth of damage to the plane.

But despite the $15,000 repair bill, Aerotec managing director and plane owner Lynette Zuccoli said the safety of the pilot and any passengers was paramount.

"The wing leading edge has suffered substantial damage as a result of the collision," Mrs Zuccoli said.

"The pilot is highly skilled, highly trained and highly qualified.

"The safety of the pilot and passengers is the most important factor."

The pilot had just taken off in the $1.2 million CT/4E Airtrainer - one of just three in Australia - when the incident happened.

"It was like a bat out of hell," Mrs Zuccoli said.

"The pilot, as an instructor, is trained to cope with unusual situations."

Latest Australian Transport Safety Bureau figures show 373 bat strikes on fixed-wing aircraft from 2002-2007, almost half of all reported strikes in Australia for the period.

The highest number of strikes occur from 6-8pm.

The incident came just hours after the State Government granted regional councils the right to disperse problem flying fox colonies.

Environment and Heritage Protection Minister Andrew Powell said councils would have the ability to eradicate bats through non-lethal means in designated urban areas.

"Flying fox dispersal is a complex issue and consideration has to be given to where the animals may go once they are moved on.

"We believe those decisions are best left to those local governments that are already managing flying fox roosts at an operational level."



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