City of San Carlos - Helicopter Patrols


Helicopter Patrols to Ensure Digging Safety

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Helicopter Patrols over Peninsula Helping to Prevent Gas Pipeline Dig-ins
PG&E has begun daily helicopter patrols over the San Francisco Peninsula as an additional measure to prevent construction accidents on gas transmission pipelines and to continue providing reliable service to customers.
The flights, which are occurring in the morning seven days a week, are conducted over about 106 miles of pipelines from San Francisco to San Jose.
Crews, including a pilot and a spotter, fly about 400 to 500 feet above the ground on a path above four PG&E gas transmission pipelines. The spotter uses an iPad with GIS and GPS coordinates to locate new construction projects, then takes photos to make sure that the utility pipelines have been located and marked and that proper excavation techniques are being followed.
The cost of these additional patrols, which may be as high as $200,000, will be covered by shareholders to help ensure customers continue to receive natural gas to their homes and businesses while Line 147, one of PG&E’s pipelines, continues to operate at a reduced pressure.
“This is an extra effort we’re making,” said David Wood, who oversees pipeline aerial patrols for PG&E. “The loss of the use of Line 147 has taken an important arrow out of our quiver. That’s why we’re putting our eyes in the sky seven days a week to increase the protection of our employees, our customers, and our pipelines.”
(Click here to watch a Currents video about a contractor who now makes sure to call 811 before starting any digging project. PG&E also has been active throughout its service area in creating Call 811 Task Forces to help boost awareness of how important this is in preventing injuries and other consequences of dig-ins.)
To read more about PG&E's efforts to improve the safety of its gas system, click