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Environment


Helicopter blades whirl and buzz saw blades spin
Northeast Ohio energy company brings in odd looking, but proven technology
by WKSU's TIM RUDELL


Reporter
Tim Rudell
 
Buzz saw style blades are swept along the edges of power line right-of-ways to cut back encroaching foliage
Courtesy of First Energy
Download (WKSU Only)
In The Region:

It’s a bird…it’s a plane…it’s…
Well, WKSU’s Tim Rudell says it fits the definition of a “contraption.” And, it’s taking to the skies over northeast Ohio.

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chopper with cutters near Doylestown, Oh“A mechanical contrivance appearing to be strangely complicated.” That’s a contraption according to the dictionary. 

Now imagine a hovering helicopter dangling an 80-foot tether, and arrayed in-line from the bottom of that, ten churning saw blades -- give this rig an ACME logo and the Coyote might use it to chase the Roadrunner. 

Scary
But, it is a trimmer; designed to cut  trees back from power lines. And, Mark Durbin of FirstEnergy says his company will be using the technology here, but selectively on mostly large transmission lines and away from residential areas. If people do see the helicopters they may find them strange but Durbin says "don't be frightened by them, they're supposed to be there."

Environmental component
Durbin says there is also a special advantage to blades-from-above in remote areas. By using the helicopters to gain access to places where the trees have to be cut back, crews don't have to gain access by moving heavy equipment across fields and through forests. 

Safety record
According to Durbin, helicopter trimming has been used elsewhere for decades with no serious accidents reported. 

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