Story and photos by Bryan Gatchell, USAG Ansbach Public Affairs
ANSBACH, Germany (Nov. 30, 2016) – A commercial helicopter flew above the Oberdachstetten Training Area earlier this month. The helicopter crew’s mission: to install aviation obstruction markers on high-tension wires.
A line of pylons carries power through the training area, and 12th Combat Aviation Brigade, which performs flight maneuvers at the training area, requested the markers to increase the powerline’s visibility.
A helicopter, which was operated by a contracted company that specializes in this work and has all necessary German licensure to perform it, lifted a work platform to the temporarily shut-off powerline. Two workers in the platform hooked the power line into their platform, clamped on the aviation obstruction markers – also known as “bird diverters” – and then unhooked from the powerline. The helicopter moved between 30 and 35 meters down the powerline (or 40 meters if passing a pylon), and repeated the process.
Installation of the markers was less expensive and more safely performed by helicopter, according to Manfred Meyer, occupational safety and health specialist at U.S. Army Garrison Ansbach. The other option, using a cherry picker – a mobile elevated work platform – would have been too time-consuming with set-up and set down at each new marker. The undeveloped nature of the terrain – uneven ground partly covered with tall-grown weeds and shrubbery – likewise prohibited the movements of a land-based mounter.
The helicopter and its crew flew along the lines for two kilometers setting up the markers. Typically, markers on high-tension wires are large orange spheres. The markers installed at Oberdachstetten appear as a one-foot-wide, 1.5-foot-long red-and-white curtain of blades. The blades, which were manufactured according to 12th CAB’s safety specifications, remedied concerns over the weight distribution on the powerlines.
“They will not collect ice, and they won’t pick up extra weight,” said Meyer. “The problem with the [spherical markers] is if there’s ice forming up in the winter, they get too heavy.”
To see more photos from the event, visit www.flickr.com/photos/usagansbachphotos/sets/72157673264494264.