Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Pankaj Kumar a Bihari with unique Idea

Show of skill: A helicopter deployed by Power Grid Corporation of India demonstrating live line washing of insulators of critical transmission lines for the first time in India at the Ballabgarh power sub-station in Haryana on Monday.

Washing power transmission lines using helicopters

NEW DELHI: The hazards associated with his job are the last thing on Charles Pooley’s mind when he is manoeuvring his helicopter around high-tension power wires 300 feet above the ground. Mr. Pooley, a skilled pilot who has logged more than 35,000 hours over the past 35 years, is currently in India as part of ongoing trials for using helicopters to wash the insulators of critical high-tension wires.
“It is a job. I don’t think of it as dangerous,” Mr. Pooley told The Hindu on the sidelines of a live demonstration at Ballabgarh on Monday. The Australian pilot, who has conducted similar exercises over the past three years in various parts of the world including the US, Africa and China, said all that he requires to carry out his task on Indian soil is “good logistical support.”
“We need the weather to be conducive. If it is foggy or windy it is difficult to fly and hold the machine steady near towers while the insulators are being washed,” he said. The practice, being carried out in India for the first time by Power Grid, was introduced last November. “Even though the procedure is extremely expensive, it is an effective way of washing insulators on critical lines in difficult terrain where manual washing is time consuming and tricky,” said Bhaskar Sharma, general manager of the Power Grid Corporation of India. Power Grid has tied up with Pawan Hans Helicopters for the exercise to prevent the tripping of power lines because of high pollution, fog and bird droppings. In winter, dense fog in the northern parts of the country along with heavy pollution, bird droppings and dust results in tripping of a large number of lines causing grid instability, Power Grid officials explained. “Last year in March we had several such trippings and we decided to take remedial measures this year prior to the onset of winters,” said Pankaj Kumar, additional general manager (operations) of Power Grid.
While the exercise in itself has fetched favourable results, the only deterrent so far has been the prohibitive cost. “We have to rely on foreign pilots because we do not have any trained pilots in India who can carry out the task,” said Mr. Kumar.
Power Grid has to cough up a whopping Rs.8.2 crore to Pawan Hans for six months clocking 300 flying hours.
“The Central Electricity Regulatory Commission has decided that the costs will be borne by Power Grid and the northern region constituents in a ration of 80:20,” said Mr. Kumar.
“Five helipads at Meerut, Dadri, Panipat and Ballabgarh have been prepared and since November we have already washed 1,500 towers,” said Mr. Kumar.
The Indian Express Writes :

Chopper jets clean up power lines, consumers brace for shock

New Delhi: There is a downside to the Power Grid Corporation of India Ltd’s (PGCIL) ambitious project to clean up rusty transmission lines using helicopters. Consumers will have to foot a major part of the bill if this operation gets a go-ahead.
Not only does the project cost a bomb, there are no skilled pilots in the country to take up the job, which can be extremely risky.
Almost 80 per cent of the estimated cost of Rs 8.2 crore will have to be borne by “constituents”, while the other 20 per cent will be paid by PGCIL.
The PGCIL, however, is optimistic and said the hike in the consumer’s monthly power bill will be “negligible” with this novel cleaning method. “In any case, this is a pilot project. Towards the end of this winter, we will take the details back to stockholders and discuss its feasibility. We cannot bear the entire cost on our own,” said PGCIL’s Assistant General Manager, Pankaj Kumar.
The PGCIL has paid Rs 8.2 crore to Pawan Hans Helicopters Ltd for 300 flying hours from November 2008 till March 2009. Pawan Hans has sub-contracted the work to New Zealand-based Heliwing.
“We have given the helicopter but the equipment and the skilled pilots required are being provided by Heliwing. We do not have pilots adept at carrying out such a dangerous operation. However, if PGCIL decides the deal will be permanent, we will send pilots for training to New Zealand,” said Vijay M Pathian, Deputy General Manager, Engineering, Pawan Hans Helicopters Ltd. One of the biggest advantages of this cleaning operation is that PGCIL no longer needs to shut down certain transmission towers in order to clean insulators.
“When we cleaned manually, each tower had to be shut for almost 10 hours. With this technology, helicopters spray a jet of de-mineralised water at live wires while transmission is on,” Kumar explained.
The helicopter has a long carbon-fibre water cannon attached to it, through which de-mineralised water is sprayed on the insulators. “About two metres of the cannon is made of fibre glass, which is a bad conductor of electricity. De-mineralised water too is a bad conductor,” explained Kumar. The operation requires immense skill on part of the pilot, as the chopper needs to remain stationary in mid-air, very close to high-tension live wires.
Unlike Delhi Transco, which uses ground-based jet pumps to clean insulators, PGCIL officials say they need to use choppers to keep their service efficient. “Most towers are in remote locations which do not have access to proper roads. We cannot mount pumps on trucks and take them to such areas,” Kumar said.