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News in Wyndham

Helicopters Sweep Wyndham’s Skies in High-Tech Battle Against Power Outages and Fires

Helicopters over Wyndham

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High-tech LiDAR Scans Powerlines in West and CBD, Targeting Dangerous Vegetation to Safeguard Homes and Businesses.

In the coming weeks, helicopters will be surveying powerlines in Melbourne’s west, inner suburbs, and the CBD as part of CitiPower and Powercor’s ongoing vegetation management program. Areas included in the survey are Werribee, Point Cook, Hoppers Crossing, Melton, and surrounding neighbourhoods.

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The helicopters, flying about 300 meters above the ground, use Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) technology to measure the distance between tree branches and powerlines. The data collected from LiDAR is used to create 3D models of the powerlines and surrounding vegetation. These models help determine which vegetation needs trimming to maintain safety and reliability.

Ayce Cordy, Head of Vegetation Management at Powercor, emphasized the importance of the program in preventing power outages and fires caused by vegetation coming into contact with powerlines. “Our work is about reducing the risk of trees and branches coming into contact with powerlines, which can lead to power outages and fires,” said Cordy. “These flights are just part of our extensive work to keep the network safe and reliable for our communities.”

Lidar image of powerlines
Lidar image of powerlines and vegetation

Annually, CitiPower and Powercor deploy three helicopters to inspect over 80,000 kilometres of powerlines across Melbourne and regional Victoria. In 2023 alone, the teams trimmed more than 500,000 trees and shrubs near over 50,000 powerline spans. Additionally, a second inspection was conducted in high bushfire risk areas to ensure further trimming before the summer season. Since 2022, Powercor has increased its cutting resources by 60% across the network.

Powercor is tasked with trimming vegetation near powerlines on both private properties and certain public lands, as regulated by Energy Safe Victoria (ESV). The program includes notifying property owners about required trimming, performing the necessary work, and returning to remove debris. In urgent cases, advance notice may not always be possible.

Helicopter Fleet Specifications

Bell 407 Helicopter
– Crew: One pilot and one LiDAR system operator
– Top speed: 260 km/h
– Range: 870 km
– Dimensions: Length – 12.62m, Height – 3.33m
– LiDAR system: RIEGL VUX-240
– LiDAR capture speed: 1.8 MHz and 400 lines per second
– Data capture: 1TB per day

Two Bell 505 Helicopters
– Crew: One pilot and one LiDAR system operator per aircraft
– Top speed: 232 km/h
– Range: 617 km
– Dimensions: Length – 12.93m, Height – 3.25m
– LiDAR system: RIEGL VUX-240
– LiDAR capture speed: 1.8 MHz and 400 lines per second
– Data capture: 1TB per aircraft per day

These efforts are crucial for maintaining the safety and reliability of Melbourne’s power supply, particularly in reducing the risks associated with vegetation near powerlines.

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