Utility work is what we do best, and it's what we like doing the most. It's challenging, precise, and incredibly purposeful. More and more people these days are conscious of their energy usage, they try to recycle, and burn less fuel when they can. But even so, we all want the light switch to work when we flip it on, right? A functioning energy transmission system is critical to making that happen. Recently, we surveyed power lines for a regular customer that owns several wind farms, some of them on the Front Range of Colorado. Talk about flying in the obstructions environment! Windmills are bigger and spin faster than you think! Then there are towers, antennas, and of course, the power lines that make up the patrol. There is definitely a lot going on here, and a lot to pay attention to. The survey took a couple of days and no major problems were found, which is great. When we first started running this patrol, that was not the case. We are finding more and more that regular inspection plays a key role in maintenance of these facilities. It is much easier to repair something before it becomes a big problem, and it is much easier to find a problem area on a routine patrol than when you have an outage that involves customer dissatisfaction. If you have a need for helicopter services for utility patrols, give us a call and I'll be happy to answer any questions you might have, and get you on the schedule.
We've had a few customers tell us lately that they have been looking into power line patrols with drones. Certainly that technology could exist down the road, but right now with line of sight control, drones are not the answer for this type of work. They could supplement what we do, but at this point, they cannot take the place of manned helicopters in this regard. And I've never met a lineman that will fit in one of those things either...J
And now I digress a bit...If you've ever heard me talk about drones, you might get the feeling that I am anti-drone, and that is really not the case. I am all for the technology and it's uses, and we will likely be expanding our business to incorporate them in the near future. What I am concerned about are irresponsible operators that don't know and understand the rules and the consequences of overstepping them. As aviators, we hear regularly about close calls with quadcopters, or about drone operators getting in the way of firefighting operations and air ambulance operations because they are in our airspace trying to get a video clip to sell to the media. What most people don't understand is that we, helicopter operators, are flying in the low-level airspace that they want to send their remote controlled aircraft into. You've heard of bird strikes, right? Remember Captain Sully? Well, drones can do as much (if not more) damage to an aircraft with souls on board. Please. If you own and operate these mighty tools, don't forget we are up there with you.
I'll leave you with an incredible video clip from the "Straight Up: Helicopters in Action" video. We don't do any human external cargo or platform work ourselves, but wow...check this out!