More eyes in the skies thanks to Powercor’s new chopper

Black helicopter flying over rural land conducting aerial inspections (powercor skies)
Image: Powercor

Powercor is taking to the skies this month with an expanded helicopter fleet as it gets ahead of next year’s powerline inspection program in central, northern and western Victoria.

By adding another specially-designed helicopter to its fleet, Powercor will inspect more than 75,000km of powerlines as part of its extensive vegetation management program designed to keep power safe and reliable for homes and businesses.

Related article: Powercor completes Otways works ahead of summer

The inspection program for the upcoming 2023-24 summer was completed in July—10 weeks earlier than last year—and additional pre-summer inspections in high-risk areas have also been conducted.

Headed up by a team of highly qualified pilots, three helicopters will begin the 2024 program over Colac, Camperdown and Warrnambool regions through November and December. Powercor spokesperson Ayce Cordy said having three helicopters available would further enhance Powercor’s vegetation management and bushfire safety program.

“We are always improving how we inspect and manage vegetation across our network to make sure our network is prepared and as safe as possible heading into the hotter months,” Cordy said.

“By adding an extra helicopter to our flying roster, we will be able to inspect the network quicker to identify when and where we need to cut back trees growing near powerlines.

“While the 2024-25 summer seasons is still well over 12 months away, these latest aerial inspections will allow us to plan and prepare our cutting program well in advance.”

Related article: Transgrid takes to the sky for annual bushfire inspections

Powercor’s aerial powerline inspections use Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) technology to accurately identify the distances of trees to powerlines. The data forms a 3D model of the network and is fed to experienced teams to analyse which trees need to be cut. From a height of 300ms above, helicopter-mounted LiDAR can accurately measure the distance between trees and powerlines to within centimetres.

Powercor has made significant investments towards improving its vegetation management in recent years, including bringing its aerial capacity and LiDAR data analysis in-house and implementing a new system to significantly improve delivery of the program.

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