A helicopter and a heavy-duty air saw are being used to trim trees along the Arrowhead-Weston transmission line corridor that runs from Wausau, Wisconsin, to near Duluth, Minnesota.

“The 220-mile length of this transmission line corridor allows us to capture efficiencies with the aerial saw, especially in areas of rugged terrain that are difficult to access with ground crews,” says Jerry Rhode, maintenance engineer for American Transmission Co. in De Pere. “The helicopter and air saw can perform trimming in a few hours; a ground-based crew might take several days to accomplish the same amount of work in difficult terrain.”

ATC has contracted with Aerial Solutions, Inc., based in Tabor City, N.C., to perform the work. The company uses McDonnell Douglas helicopters equipped with 24-horsepower saws with multiple rotary blades suspended on a 90-foot vertical boom. Managing the growth of trees and other vegetation is key to helping ensure public safety and electric system reliability. ATC performs routine vegetation management on its more than 9,440 miles of transmission lines in five-year cycles.