Western Power is trialling a new way of inspecting our network using Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) - commonly known as drones. This trial will assist with visual inspections of faults in regional areas.
We expect to launch for the first time in early July and aim to complete 60 inspection flights in the Mid-West and Wheatbelt regions during the trial period. Exactly when and where they are used will be dictated by where faults and outages occur.
Our drone will be based at our Geraldton and Northam depots to help our teams quickly respond to outages in those regions. Our assets in these areas are at greater risk of damage from severe weather. The length of the pole-and-line network means visual inspections can take a long time.
There are a lot of potential benefits from using drone technology to identify faults on our network including reducing the duration of outages by speeding up the identification of faults.
Landowners will be contacted as per our usual land access process if Western Power is planning to fly over their property.
If you have private powerlines or a private power pole on your property, it's your responsibility to inspect and maintain them. If you're unsure where Western Power’s network ends and where your responsibilities begin, call us on 13 10 87.
Our drones are designed for inspection meaning any vision captured will only be used to assist in resolving the issue. Your privacy will be protected.
Our pilots have undertaken training specific to inspecting powerlines and identifying issues. Our equipment has in-built technology designed specifically for this type of work.
We encourage the safe flying of all drones as laid out on CASA’s droneflyer website.
Routine power pole inspections also include inspecting at ground level and other parts of Western Power assets, so they cannot be done entirely by drone.
Previously, we had commissioned contractors to utilise drones for a small number of other operations. This trial brings the personnel and expertise in-house, supporting jobs and upskilling for our valued team in innovative technology solutions.
Pole inspections to find faults are undertaken by our teams who often must drive or walk alongside powerlines over long distances to locate a fault. This can sometimes involve accessing land that is environmentally sensitive, could damage crops or are generally difficult to access.
This is why drone technology could provide a big benefit as it would reduce the types of risk our crews are exposed to in their day-to-day jobs.
Drones do make noise when they’re under operation and we are conscious that can cause a nuisance.
Our drones will be following a route and will not linger longer than necessary to carry out an inspection. If you see or hear a Western Power drone under operation, please be patient and know we are working as efficiently and effectively as we can to keep you, and our network, safe.
The drone will always be flown in the proximity of the pilots. Our drone pilots and their vehicles will be easily identified as Western Power.