Helicopters to scan Geelong, Surf Coast powerlines for bushfire safety

April 3, 2024 BY

Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) technology allows Powercor to measure distances between tree branches and powerlines accurately. An image of Moorabool Street is seen here. Image: SUPPLIED

HELICOPTERS equipped with advanced technology will scan powerlines in Geelong and the Surf Coast over the coming weeks, marking a critical phase in Powercor’s bushfire mitigation and vegetation management program.

The operation involves helicopters flying about 300m above the ground, using Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) to measure distances between tree branches and powerlines accurately.

The technology helps Powercor in crafting 3D models to identify and prioritise vegetation trimming around power infrastructure.

Powercor head of vegetation management Ayce Cordy said the extensive vegetation management program was about keeping power safe and reliable for homes and businesses.

“Our work is about reducing the risk of trees and branches coming into contact with powerlines, which can lead to power outages and fires.

“These flights are just part of our extensive work to keep the network safe and reliable for our communities.”

Powercor’s vegetation management program, guided by Energy Safe Victoria’s regulations, includes entering private properties to cut back trees and undertaking similar work on public lands to maintain clearances, especially in high bushfire-risk zones.

Property owners are typically notified about necessary cutting work, with urgent actions taken as required to maintain safety standards.

The aerial fleet, consisting of one Bell 407 and two Bell 505 helicopters, each with a pilot and a LiDAR system operator, is equipped with the RIEGL VUX-240 LiDAR system.

This technology allows for the capture of 1TB of data per day at slow cruise speeds of 129kmh, using LiDAR scan speeds of 1.8MHz and 400 lines per second.

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