Helicopters, planes, vehicles and drones to inspect powerlines

Ausgrid contractors will conduct air bushfire safety patrols

Residents in the north of the region might notice helicopters, planes, vehicles and drones around the area between now and June 7 looking for bushfire hazards.

They are part of Ausgrid’s Bushfire Risk Management Strategy which will see the electricity provider working with the NSW Rural Fire Service, Central Coast Council and community groups to inspect powerlines, poles and other equipment in bushfire-prone areas.

The helicopter crews use radar imaging equipment and high resolution photography to identify potential bushfire hazards.

The radar sends and records 300,000 pulses every second to create a three-dimensional representation of the network and is capable of identifying branch heights with an accuracy of within two centimetres.

Aerial patrols will be flying in the area until June 7.

Crews will be in the air from about 8.30am to 4pm (weather permitting).

The helicopters fly between 18kmh and 55kmh, 500ft to 1,000ft from the ground and the planes fly 1,400ft to 1,700ft above ground level and reach speeds of 180kmh to 210kmh.

Ausgrid says the helicopters and drones need to fly low at times, and this may startle livestock in rural areas.

The company suggests property owners may want to consider securing livestock during the patrols.

“Every endeavour will be made to stick to the flight schedule, however, due to factors out of our control such as adverse weather conditions it may change slightly,” Ausgrid’s website says.

“Drones allow us to get a clearer image of our poles.

“Drone cameras will be focused on the pole tops, so no pictures of the general public will be taken.

“The drones travel no higher than 115ft from ground level and travel at speeds between 5kmh and 20kmh.

Suburbs which might notice air action between now and March 30 include: Alison, Bateau Bay, Berkeley Vale, Chittaway Bay, Chittaway Point, Fountaindale, Glenning Valley, Jilliby, Kangy Angy, Killarney Vale, Long Jetty, Mardi, Ourimbah, Palm Grove, Palmdale, Rocky Point, Shelly Beach, Tacoma, Tacoma South, Tuggerah, Tuoggerawong, Tumbi Umbi, Wadalba, Watanobbi, Wyong and Wyong Creek.

Ausgrid website, Feb 13