Low-flying helicopter to assist Austin Energy in aerial survey of transmission lines

December 3, 2018

On Dec. 5, weather permitting, Austin Energy contractor Tuck Mapping Solutions will fly a helicopter over portions of Austin Energy’s transmission system in order to measure the location of wires and identify potential obstructions, such as overgrown vegetation. They will be gathering data in 10 different locations, which cover roughly 23 miles of the utility’s transmission system. The data will supplement information gathered last year when Austin Energy conducted an aerial survey of 615 miles of transmission lines.

“An integral part of Austin Energy’s strategic plan is to modernize the electric utility grid to increase safety, reliability, and customer value,” said Dan Smith, Austin Energy Vice President of Electric Service Delivery. “This project is an essential part of digitizing Austin Energy’s transmission system to better enable us to manage, operate, maintain, and modernize the electric grid.”

This practice is called LiDAR and it involves a helicopter flying at low altitudes over transmission lines and near some power plants. LiDAR, which stands for Light Detection and Ranging, uses light in the form of a laser to survey and measure and is similar in function and purpose to radar. Austin Energy and Tuck Mapping Solutions works closely with the Federal Aviation Administration to plan the exercise. The contractor will fly over locations throughout the city. Work is expected to last one day, but if the crew is unable to complete all of the flights on Dec. 5, they will complete them on Dec. 6.

Below is a photo of a similar aircraft and a map of the locations the helicopter will be surveying.

Last Updated: 12/3/18

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