American Transmission Co.

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Managing vegetation with help from above

Helicopters equipped with aerial saws are used to trim vegetation near some ATC lines.

A helicopter equipped with an aerial saw is used to trim vegetation near some ATC lines.

At American Transmission Co., our job is to safely and reliably operate the area transmission system, and we take that responsibility seriously. An important part of that involves managing the vegetation around our transmission facilities to prevent outages, and with more than 9,540 miles of transmission lines, that’s no small job.

One unique approach we take is to get help from above – help from a helicopter, that is. Yes, you read that right. We use a light utility helicopter equipped with a heavy-duty aerial saw to trim the vegetation near some of our lines. Rotary saw blades are suspended on a 90- to 100-foot vertical boom that is attached to the helicopter.

The helicopter/aerial saw combination is particularly effective in areas where difficult terrain and wetlands make it challenging for ground crews to access the transmission line corridor. This technique is also very efficient, as the helicopter crew is able to complete in just a few hours what would take a ground-based crew several days to accomplish.

We manage the growth of trees and other vegetation near our high-voltage lines in five-year cycles, and this summer, an air saw-equipped helicopter crew is trimming vegetation along lines in Wisconsin between Baraboo and Spring Green; Montfort, Cassville and Platteville; and Darlington and Monroe.

Rotary saw blades are suspended on a vertical boom attached to the helicopter.

Rotary saw blades are suspended on a vertical boom attached to the helicopter.

Want to know more? Check out our YouTube channel for video footage of similar vegetation management work, and read a recent news story about aerial saw work in southeastern Wisconsin.