EXPLAINED: Why helicopter is buzzing Gladstone
FLYING a helicopter around high-voltage power lines, then landing and taking off from the back of a refuelling truck requires great skill and expertise for the pilots of Aeropower.
Gladstone residents may see a blue and white McDonnell Douglas 500 buzzing around transmission lines and performing insulator washing on the electricity network across Central Queensland.
The washing is carried out on towers to remove containments, including dust, which can build up on the insulators during drier parts of the year.
The helicopters are fitted with a rigid rubber and fibreglass hose to spray demineralised water at high pressure to clean the insulators.
Chief operations officer John Gardner said the work being done was airborne electrical contractor for Powerlink and its transmission network.
"Powerlink was very innovative with its techniques and this type of work to reduce the impact of trucks and vehicles and be environmentally friendly," Mr Gardner said.
"The work is done under strict safety guidelines and with the Civil Aviation Safety Authority."
Powerlink executive general manager operations Gary Edwards said residents may see the helicopter moving around at low level along transmission lines to wash the insulators, which are strings of porcelain or glass discs located near the top of the towers.
"The pilots will endeavour to maintain the maximum distance practically from houses, livestock and crops and be as quick and non-disruptive as possible," Mr Edwards said.
The work will take place in areas around Gladstone, Gin Gin, Boyne Island, Biloela and Callide through the final week of September.