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I was watching a youtube video about high voltage cable inspections performed with helicopters. It can be seen how the helicopter has to reach the same electric potential as the wire, something that normally does not occur to other crafts.

I was wondering, is there any kind of special instrumentation/equipment that must be installed on the helicopters to perform such operations?

Are the pilots aided in any special way to maintain a stable hover or it boils down to skill and training?

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  • $\begingroup$ There seem to be two questions. Are you asking about electrical effects, or just the hovering bit, or both? $\endgroup$ – Simon May 19 '16 at 12:48
  • $\begingroup$ @Simon about instrumentation/equipment, and I can see two elements that could affect it: hovering next to cables, and electricity. $\endgroup$ – Federico May 19 '16 at 12:51
  • $\begingroup$ The electrical side isn't a problem. Once the potentials are equal, there is no current flow (that's what's happening with the sparks jumping the gap when the linesman uses the bonding wire and rod to bring the helicopter to the same potential as the line). Once they are at the same potential, nothing happens. $\endgroup$ – Simon May 19 '16 at 16:48
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I work in this area and, to my knowledge, I never heard about any special aid to help the pilot. They know precisely which are the wind speed limitations to do the work safely, the rest is basically skill.

What they do install in helicopters, is the so called Wire Strike Protection System (WSPS), which should cut the cable if the helicopter strikes it, avoiding damages on the main rotor (see the picture https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/bf/Ntsp-oh58-N170FR-070205-01cr.jpg that Bell has two WSPS, one over the cabin another underneath the avionics bay). But this is more important on power line inspection, which is made at around 60-80 km/h with cameras and LiDARs. When the helicopter is hovering by the cables this doesn't bring much aid.

But this is a risky job anyway and if you search, you will find plenty of accidents which happened with helicopters and power lines.

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