Sunday, January 21, 2007

Helicopters and Power

Dominion Virginia Power has partnered with Chesapeake Bay Helicopters to develop one of the most sophisticated electronic surveillance helicopters in the world. By combining the highest
quality sensors available to detect potential problems with high-voltage transmission lines, Dominion has greatly improved the efficiency of inspecting lines to further increase the reliability of service to electric customers. The helicopter can also perform extremely acurate aerial surveying with the onboard LIDAR system and GPS system. One of the most challenging aspects of the project has been handling the terabytes of data gathered in the imagery and survey data.

Rachel O'Donnell, a Technical Specialist at Dominion, will present "Helicopters and Power" to the IEEE Richmond Section at their Thursday, 1 February 2007 meeting. The meeting will be held a the Hilton Garden Inn at Innsbrook in Glen Allen, VA at 5:30 PM. The meeting is open to the public. Guests should register at


Anonymous said...

A couple of questions for Rachel O'Donnell. What were the biggest issues faced in the development of Dominion's helicopter? How are you storing and accessing the large amount of data?

Anonymous said...

With implementing a system as technical as this we have had to embrace a huge learning curve, especially in the beginning stages of development. Several data formats are captured during our aerial patrols, such as GPS and laser data, photos and video, which in turn create a great need for storage space. Each set of data collected requires separate software to read and process further.

Initially the information is captured and stored at Chesapeake Bay Helicopters so we use external hard drives to transport the data and then transfer to in-house servers. At this point we can estimate ~1.5 TB of data will be captured each year.

Anonymous said...

Are any other electric utilities using a similar helicopter to patrol their transmission lines?

Anonymous said...

Some may utilize a camera to detect Infrared or Corona but as far as we know, there are no other utilities that have incorporated all of the components into one integrated system.

IEEE Richmond Section Program Chair said...

Rachel O'Donnell from Dominion made a great presentation this evening at the IEEE Richmond Section Meeting on "Helicopters and Power". The capabilities of Dominion's helicopter are truly unique in the electric utility industry.