Having spent 17 years as helicopter crew in the Military, I was keen to continue utilizing the skills that I had attained. Being a long established, professional unit with an impressive safety record Western Power Distribution Helicopter Unit seemed to fit the bill.
Having researched the company as a whole, I was impressed with its achievements within the energy sector. Continually being the best performing Electricity Distribution Company within the country it leaves its competitors in its wake! In order to achieve this, the company invests heavily in its workforce.
As an Assistant Observer my role will entail conducting Airborne inspections of the overhead power network throughout the four license areas in order to assess the line with regards to safety, condition and reliability. The unit is required to patrol the whole network periodically with the frequency of patrol determined by the line voltage. In addition we will conduct Emergency Line Patrols and also pre-outage.
Operating from Bristol Airport we can be tasked as far away as Lincolnshire and Cornwall.
A typical day will start with the morning brief which is attended by all unit staff, this will cover the days tasking, the meteorological conditions, any airspace restrictions and aircraft availability. Crews are then allocated, plan their individual tasks, brief and then depart for the day. Typically the crew will 2 fly sorties in the day each for around 2.5 hours inspecting around 100kms of line. On completion of the days flying all patrol reports are uploaded to the requestor in order that any identified faults can be addressed in a timely manner.
Should we identify a fault that requires immediate rectification this can be phoned in from the air.
The nature of the work means that every day is different, even on a routine patrol we will often be re-tasked to the other end of the country in order to conduct an Emergency Line Patrol. We are empowered to make decisions and act on them accordingly.
A professional, yet relaxed culture with an overwhelming desire ‘to get the job done’.
Commitment to the Unit, to the wider company and most importantly to the customer.
Being a small unit within the company, career progression within the unit is difficult to achieve. There is however ample opportunity for learning and development. Innovation and technological advances within the sector mean that as an individual within the company you will constantly be learning new skills and techniques.
Being fairly new to the unit my biggest achievement to date was being successful in the selection process and being offered the role. Bigger things to come!!
Go for it! It won’t be easy, it will be challenging but ultimately it will be rewarding.