High voltage balancing act

Workers tethered to helicopter

Last updated 13:17 19/02/2014
Helicopter hovers over power lines, Wellington
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HIGH WIRE: Workers balance on power lines while tethered to a helicopter.

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A helicopter dropping workers on to 110,000-volt powerlines in central Wellington has been turning heads today.

While dramatic to watch, the process was routine maintenance work on the high-voltage lines, Transpower spokeswoman Rebecca Wilson said.

''Highly trained'' live linesmen were today and tomorrow being lowered from a helicopter on to the live lines.

Once on, they clipped on but remained tethered to the helicopter while they carried out work on the 110,000-volt lines.

As long as they only touched a single line at a time, they were safe from electrocution, however, that could change if they touched two lines at the same time.

''It's like a bird on a wire.''

While it was a high risk environment, the linesmen were highly trained' and it was relatively safe as long as procedures were followed.

Today's calm weather was ideal. ''We have got a good day and we have got a good pilot.''

Asked whether they got danger pay, she said: ''They are competitively paid just as other highly-skilled people are.''

The workers were this morning above Central Park in Wellington and were working their way from the Central Park substation towards another substation in Wilton.

''We have had a fair few people come by to have a look.''

The procedure was notified through an advertisement in The Dominion Post.

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- The Dominion Post

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