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Video: Aerial inspections ensure system reliability

November 3, 2021 | Jodi Baker | reliability, T&D
helicopter inspection
Gary Wohlman, a line maintenance technician with OPPD, takes photos while inspecting transmission lines.

OPPD’s Asset Management & Maintenance personnel take to the skies every fall to check 1,275 miles of transmission lines across the utility’s 5,000-mile service territory.

Two rounds of the aerial inspections occur every year; the other one is in the spring. The inspections are conducted by helicopter, the quickest and lowest-cost method. They allow personnel to spot potential problems in the transmission system.

Doing the inspection by helicopter also lets OPPD cover “a vast territory of varied terrain without impacting landowners’ land,” said Gary Wohlman, a line maintenance technician.

A helicopter contractor pilots the aircraft for the inspections, which typically happen over the course of two weeks. The crew inspects every portion of every transmission line within OPPD’s 13-county service territory. The duration and path of inspections will depend on the weather. State and local law enforcement agencies are notified and updated of the flight path and timelines throughout the process.

Inspectors generally find a few issues that require quick attention to ensure the system’s reliability. When they do, OPPD dispatchers and T&D Operations personnel are notified so they can arrange for planned outages, crews, material and equipment needed to make repairs.

In addition to the condition of the lines and structures, inspectors check the clearance around the lines. Trees, sheds and other objects placed too close can cause service disruptions.

The inspections help OPPD maintain a “good, safe, reliable system,” Wohlman said.

helicopter inspections
Shown, from left, are Devin Riley, a pilot with Hawkeye Helicopter, and OPPD line maintenance technicians Craig Bohannon and Gary Wohlman. Photo by Danielle Beebe-Iske


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About Jodi Baker

Jodi Baker writes stories and shoots videos for The Wire. Jodi was a television news reporter before she came to work for OPPD as a media specialist in 2013. Jodi earned her degree in broadcasting from the University of Nebraska-Omaha. She's worked for news stations from her hometown of Omaha to sunny San Diego. She’s married with two bright and energetic children (a boy and a girl) and an allergy-ridden little Cairn Terrier. She and her husband enjoy catching up on some grown-up DVR time once the kiddos are asleep.

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