Helicopter patrols

Each year we patrol around 15,000km of South East Queensland's electricity network from the air - that's equivalent of a trip from Brisbane to Singapore and back.

We use specialised helicopters and pilots to thoroughly check overhead powerlines and poles to ensure the electricity supply across South East Queensland remains safe and reliable.

Why use helicopters?

The helicopters significantly reduce the time taken to inspect an area. They are twice as fast as vehicle patrols and 20 times quicker in mountainous terrain or on private property.

This bird’s-eye view allows us to identify, monitor and repair any wear and tear or potential risks to supply, such as overgrown vegetation or deterioration on the topside of poles.

Watch this video and hear from the pilots themselves.

“Hi my name is Jethro Price-Johnson and I’m an Aerial Observer at HAWCS Aerial Survey Specialists”.

“My name is Mark Midgley and I’m one of the Line Pilots for HAWCS Aerial Survey Specialists”.

“And we’re doing powerline surveys for ActewAGL around Canberra” – Price-Johnson.

ActewAGL has the most reliable network in Australia. To help keep it that way, we use helicopters to conduct inspections throughout the ACT and surrounding region. They allow us to cover vast areas to ensure that trees and vegetation are kept clear of powerlines and to mitigate bush fires.

“ActewAGL has been using helicopters since 1979, when we first borrowed a helicopter to do a big chunk of our network. Since then we’ve been using them in a lot of different ways. Primarily we look at vegetation – we look at the accurate and effective way of detecting encroachments between the vegetation and our poles and wires. We also look at the top of the infrastructure, the bits we can’t see from the ground, to really understand if there are any problems with the top of the network” – ActewAGL Environment & Sustainability Manager, Chris Dare.

To help us accurately identify potential hazards, we use a cutting edge technology called LIDAR. It stands for Light Detection and Ranging, and is a remote sensing method that uses light in the form of a pulsed laser to help generate precise three-dimensional information about the shape of the Earth and its surface characteristics.

“We use a specially designed LIDAR scheme that maps the terrain below the aircraft. And then through those maps, we can identify hazards or potential hazards. We’re able to estimate the clearances between vegetation and power lines to up to two centimetres. So it’s very, very accurate” – Price-Johnson.

“So, we can actually tell with the vegetation how far exactly from the line that is. In the rural areas we must maintain a minimum of 350ft. And in the urban areas we’ve got to maintain a minimum height of 1,000ft. It’s really satisfying knowing that we’ve contributed to the safety of all the people in the ACT” – Midgley.

So when you see our helicopter in the air, you’ll know that it’s all part of ActewAGL’s maintenance program, to help keep our network the most reliable and safe in Australia.

Protecting you from the noise

We are aware that noise from low flying helicopters can present a risk to pets, livestock or even someone you know. That is why our specialised pilots remain alert for livestock and, where possible, change course to avoid unsettling animals.

Register now and we'll call you

Our flying schedule is dependent on weather conditions, so it can be difficult to provide specific information.

We do maintain a list of registered customers, so if you have livestock or medical concerns and we haven't been in contact within the last 12 months, register below or call us on 13 12 53.

Register now