“In the chopper, we’re communicating the whole time about the electricity lines and the space that surrounds them. We sweep our eyes side to side through the nearby vegetation, then up each tower structure, checking the condition of the earthing and insulation in particular.”
Meet Brenden Secombe, one of a team of specialists selected to patrol our network by helicopter ahead of bushfire season to identify maintenance that will minimise bushfire risk.
The patrols are vital to the safety of communities nearby lines, and for the safe and continual supply of electricity across the State.
The teams in the chopper are in the air for approximately eight hours a day, fly over a transmission tower every two minutes, and travel at up to 40 knots an hour.
View from the top (L to R): Patrolling the lines; recording potential risks; boarding the chopper; vegetation near a transmission line.
On a transmission network that spans 13,000 kilometres, it’s vital to record all potential hazards quickly and accurately.
There’s a pilot and two people to check the transmission line and surrounding area. One checks for vegetation that’s growing too close to the line, and the other checks for maintenance that’s needed on the line.
Also flying the lines is Andrew Brice, who brings over 30 years of industry experience, including emergency repairs by helicopter.
“If we see something than needs urgent repair, we report it immediately. For the most part, we record location, proximity to the transmission line, and exactly what the issue is,” says Andrew.
“From the air, we see the lines end-to-end, and can get up close to things we simply can’t see from the ground,” says Brenden.
This information is passed to teams who carry out the maintenance work. The patrols and resulting maintenance work are vital to minimising risk on the lines and surrounding areas ahead of summer. Hot summer days are typically when bushfire risk is highest, and also when the network is under pressure to supply the most electricity.
“There are a few hard yards involved, but it’s a good feeling to know that we play a part in keeping the network in good working order. At the end of the day, it all comes back to keeping people safe,” says Andrew.
2018 aerial patrol dates and locations
We can all help to keep our transmission network safe. If you see a potential hazard on the TransGrid network, call 1800 027 253 to explain the location and nature of the risk.