Babcock to create next-gen helicopter capability for Western Power Distribution
Babcock has been awarded a multi-million pound contract to upgrade the fleet of EC135 helicopters belonging to electricity network operator Western Power
Distribution (WPD). The major fleet upgrade will include integrating new mission systems, infra-red camera equipment, laser scanning devices and
an entirely reconfigured workspace into each of WPD's five aircraft (example pictured here and attached).
The design and installation of next-generation technologies will create a new level of capability for each of the aircraft, which play a critical role in helping WPD deliver electricity to over 7.8 million customers in the Midlands, South West England and Wales.
Managing Director at Babcock Aviation Onshore, Tim Shattock, said: "This is great news for us and for the customers of WPD. Our Design and Completions teams in our Staverton base – which is close to WPD's Bristol HQ - have the skills, experience and approvals to deliver the high quality upgrades that will precisely match the requirements of this demanding customer.
We are creating a truly bespoke solution that will see these aircraft perform critical tasks, helping WPD manage the service they provide through their network of 220,000 km of overhead lines and underground cables."
Clifton Lombard, Business Development Director at Babcock added: "WPD need aircraft to perform highly specific, mission critical tasks – particularly monitoring and surveying their network which covers an area of over 55,500 square kilometres. We will be integrating a range of next generation technologies and will be delivering a bespoke mission system solution that exactly meets WPD Helicopter Unit's operational requirements.
"The work includes a infra-red stabilised camera turrets, LiDAR laser surveying equipment, ergonomically optimised workstations in the cockpit and cabin, next-generation mission system management software and touch screen controls that will enhance capability without increasing workload.
The new interiors, layout and on-board equipment will be integrated with safety and quality as the key priorities, ensuring that each crew member has access to the correct equipment so they can work together as an effective team, where safety is always the first priority."
The first aircraft is expected to arrive at Babcock's Staverton facility in July 2018 and the full fleet is expected to have received the upgrade and be
fully operational by the end of 2019.
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