As part of our Bushfire Risk Management Strategy, we are working with the NSW Rural Fire Service, local councils and community groups to inspect powerlines, poles and other equipment in bushfire-prone areas.
Ausgrid engages specialist contractors to conduct bushfire safety patrols utilising helicopters, vehicles and drones (UAV) in parts of The Hunter, Newcastle, Central Coast and Sydney looking for hazards. 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 are a central part of Ausgrid’s bushfire management program. Through the patrols we inspect both pole tops and vegetation within the Ausgrid network to identify defects and inform our maintenance program.
Our pole top inspection program runs from February through to May 2022, with our LiDAR Vegetation inspections starting in April running through to July 2022. We engage different equipment to complete these inspections, including helicopters, drones and specialised terrestrial vehicles.
Crews will typically be in the air no earlier than 1 hour after sunrise and no later than 1 hour before sunset (weather permitting). The helicopters fly between 55 and 92 km/h, 150–310 metres from the ground. The helicopters will utilise real time tracking and monitoring of its location with a minimum crew number of 3 people on board the aircraft, including the pilot, safety observer/navigator and photographer/systems operator. Onground support and refuelling vehicle will also be nearby.
The helicopters & drones need to fly low at times, and this may startle livestock in rural areas, so 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. Check back here for updates.
We patrol our network using helicopters, drones and specialised terrestrial vehicles.
Drones (UAVs) 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 35m from ground level and travel at speeds between 5-20km/h.
As a specialised vehicle mounted with a LiDAR scanner travels through a site, the sensor emits laser pulses and records the time and position of the reflected pulse to produce an accurate point cloud measurement of the area surrounding the path of the sensor. Specialised LiDAR vehicles are used when access with a helicopter or drone is not permitted, such as in the No-Fly zone surrounding Sydney Airport.
There are two programs of bushfire safety checks running concurrently until May 2022. Click a location on the maps below for more information on the flight schedules in your area.