Helicopter power line work

A helicopter from Haverfield Aviation hovers near power lines last week along New Design Road while doing repairs to hardware on transmission lines owned by FirstEnergy Corp. The equipment repairs take about two weeks to complete.

Some jobs offer opportunities to rise quickly.

One Pennsylvania company that was doing work in Frederick County this week takes that sentiment literally.

On Monday, a lineman sat on some scaffolding suspended from a helicopter to work on FirstEnergy’s power lines along New Design Road near Harshman Way.

The man was repairing the static hardware on FirstEnergy’s 230-kilovolt lines, said Aaron Ruegg, a spokesman for FirstEnergy.

The work was expected to take about two weeks to complete, he said.

FirstEnergy serves 6 million customers in the Mid-Atlantic and Midwest regions of the country, through 10 regulated distribution companies, including Potomac Edison, which serves nearly 400,000 customers in Maryland and West Virginia.

The helicopter was provided by one of FirstEnergy’s contractors, Haverfield Aviation, based in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

The company has between 25 and 30 pilots and 25 MD500 helicopters like the one used this week near Frederick, said Kley Lucas, vice president of operations for Haverfield.

The company allows only its own linemen to perform that type of work.

The job comes with some obvious dangers, Lucas said.

Electricity is inherently dangerous, and the midair work adds another element of danger, he said.

“The linemen are highly trained, and so are the pilots,” he said.

Pilots do their training with an instructor in the aircraft before they’re allowed to fly on their own.

Linemen have usually worked for other companies doing similar jobs, but may have to adjust to the midair element of the work.

The company performs a variety of services to power companies and other businesses, including helicopter lifting services, maintenance and inspection, and aerial tree trimming.

In 2013, FirstEnergy used the same company to trim trees near some power lines in Gambrill State Park, using a saw attachment suspended from a helicopter.

Using the helicopters is often the only way to get access to a line, and allows them to move from structure to structure more quickly, Lucas said.

Their main obstacle is weather such as wind or rain, although some jobs can still be done depending on how windy it is, he said.

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Ryan Marshall is the transportation and growth and development reporter for the News-Post. He can be reached at rmarshall@newspost.com.

(1) comment


Wow! You don't see that every day!

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