The breakdown in power supplies that caused serious disruption throughout India in late July has prompted the country’s government to draw up plans for using helicopters to support patrolling and restoring transmission lines. Government-owned Power Grid, which runs five separate electricity grids across India, is expected to issue requests for proposals for acquiring or leasing rotorcraft to be better prepared next time the grid fails or is damaged during an emergency such as an earthquake.
Power Grid has contracted helicopter support services in the past and has always used government-owned operator Pawan Hans, mainly for cleaning power lines. A private Indian operator speaking to AIN on condition of anonymity asserted that the government should open competitive bidding to find an operator with crews specifically trained for the challenging mission of power-line monitoring and maintenance. Power Grid operates almost 60,000 miles of power lines across the vast country. Power Grid recently released a tender for two new light helicopters (offering range of at least 175 nm) for surveillance of oil pipelines.