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RTE is celebrating 50 years of helicopter services and work on the electricity transmission system.

Source: RTE 26/09/2003

On 26th September at Aurons (Bouches-du-Rhône Department), RTE celebrated its 50th anniversary of helicopter work on surveillance, maintenance and construction of its lines.

This celebration by André Merlin, Director of RTE, was an opportunity to look back at the main events that have punctuated the story of helicopter services and work, to reinforce industrial partnerships with such companies as the aeronautics manufacturer Eurocopter or the helicopter turbines designer Turbomeca and its subsidiary CGTM, as well as with all those people who contributed to the success of this technical and human adventure.

Helicopter services and work is a French speciality. Within RTE at the present time, it is an entity including 50 people, including 12 pilots and 12 mechanics, and relies on about 60 line riggers certified for aerial work on live lines. HSW uses 8 Ecureuil helicopters dedicated to line inspections, one twin engine Ecureuil helicopter for maintenance operations with agents in a suspended basket, and one Lama helicopter for erecting pylons.

RTE pilots and line installers are dedicated, demanding and teamwork-oriented professionals. They make the very most of the helicopter's potential by developing intervention methods and new efficient tools such as infrared photography to detect overheating.

At the present time, 80% of helicopter work is done on live lines. In the framework of the public service confided to RTE, this enables the continuity of supply with a substantial reduction in maintenance costs. The equivalent of 1000 days of line interruption is thereby avoided every year and maintenance operation times are divided by 15.

Helicopter work on the transmission system, designed and carried out in the context of industrial relations based on durability, expertise and confidence, are an internationally recognized French speciality. Many patents have been obtained by EDF and RTE and there has been an initial technology transfer to England.

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