The past few years has seen an increasing dependence on electricity. People get agitated and irritated if power companies cut power for even a minute. Therefore, power cuts for routine maintenance and inspection of high voltage powerlines is out of the question. Due to this, linesmen and electrical engineers have to perform inspections on live wires. As the wires are live, there are many dangers involved in this daredevil profession, which is why helicopter safety training is exceptionally important.
Anything could go wrong while attempting a routine inspection. Here are a few of the most common dangers involved in helicopter powerline inspection:
As the powerlines carry about 750kV voltage, the linesmen cannot directly touch or inspect the wire. They wear special suits that act as faraday cages so that their body stays safe from the voltage of the wire.
The helicopter, on the other hand, is brought to the same voltage as the powerline so that it can stay close to the wire. If there is heavy fluctuation in the voltage, which is extremely rare but possible, the helicopter might get sparked off course. It may even collide with the poles holding the line causing an even bigger disaster.
Ripped Linesman Suit:
As mentioned earlier, the suit acts as a faraday cage. A faraday cage has to be enclosed from all angles or else the voltage barrier would break and current could flow in. If the suit of the linesman gets ripped and is left unattended, the current from the live wire would flow through the linesman’s body. That level of exposure to live current would vaporize the body of the linesman and only the suit would remain!
Accidentally Touching the Pole:
As the pole is earthed, if the linesman accidentally touches the pole while inspecting the live wires, the circuit would complete and current would again flow through the linesman. Due to this, the linesman’s faraday cage might reduce the damage, but the current would definitely cause some severe burns.
All three of the above mentioned dangers are life threatening. Therefore, it is very important to make sure that all safety standards are checked before attempting to do an inspection, even if it is just a routine inspection.