Western Power adds drone fleet to network in bid to improve reliability

Headshot of Jake Santa Maria
Jake Santa MariaGeraldton Guardian
Drones have been added to help maintain the Western Power network.
Camera IconDrones have been added to help maintain the Western Power network. Credit: Supplied

Western Power is using drones in a bid to increase reliability and maintenance across its network throughout the Mid West and WA.

A 22-strong drone squad has been operating since August last year conducting more than 400 flight missions to help with power line inspections, fault findings and other testing on its network.

One drone depot is located in Geraldton with Western Power stating the airborne devices greatly reduce fault identification times by replacing ground crews and the use of thermal lenses to detect faults not visible to the naked eye.

It’s not the first time Western Power has gone the aerial route employing helicopters to help wash powerlines across the Mid West.

Western Power has also been given an exemption to fly drones during total fire and total movement bans improving the ability to inspect lines and re-energise power during bushfire-related outages.

Executive manager asset operations Zane Christmas said the drone program not only offered operational and safety benefits but also upskills Western Power employees.

“The drone program has been hugely successful for our maintenance teams, and we’re excited to see how this technology evolves in the future,” he said.

“We’re trialling innovative practices such as developing a custom drone attachment to string power lines across inaccessible areas such as rivers and valleys.

“Western Power has 67 team members who are active drone pilots, and 30 who are awaiting certification, which requires completing Civil Aviation Safety Authority training, bringing additional expertise in-house and supporting jobs.”

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