National Grid gets new pylon-checking helicopter

National Grid has added another helicopter to its fleet which inspect pylons in England and Wales, the network operator announced today. It says the Bell 429 is the first of […]

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By Vicky Ellis

National Grid has added another helicopter to its fleet which inspect pylons in England and Wales, the network operator announced today.

It says the Bell 429 is the first of its model in the world to be equipped to work for a utility company. It is a replacement for an older model which is going out of service. National Grid has two in service at any one time.

Helicopters help inspections to be carried out much quicker than from the ground. It takes three linesmen climbing the towers one day to inspect three pylons, while an airborne observer can inspect six pylons in one hour, according to National Grid.

A spokesperson told ELN just one of the “extra benefits” of the ‘copter is that it can “hover for longer”.

It has a workstation inside and a high definition camera for filming the condition of the pylons, wires and insulators as well as thermal imaging in colder weather to find “hot joints” and to inspect electricity substations.

Michael Hannon, National Grid’s overhead lines field support manager said: “Helicopters have proved a cost effective way of keeping an accurate and documented record of the state of the network.”