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Flight of the Linemen: Helicopter Bare-Hand Insulator Replacement

What would you do when you have to replace insulators and spacer dampers on a line that crosses steep mountains and extends down into orchard-filled valleys? What if there is only limited time to take lines out of service for repair, as the continuous flow of power is expected to remain uninterrupted?

During the past four years, Sierra Nevada’s line crews have been perfecting the solution to these complex questions: performing live-line and de-energized maintenance techniques with a helicopter. WAPA's use of helicopters to replace dead-end insulators makes it innovative in the utility industry. “I am not aware of any other utility in the nation that is using long-line hot-stick bare-hand methods for this type of work,” said Lineman James Hill. “Most utilities I speak with climb the towers and replace them using traditional methods.”

James Hill is featured in some of the following detailed and breathtaking images of the crew's completion of a multi-year project replacing insulators on several dead-end towers.

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