28-Feb-2017 Source: HeliHub.com
For at least the last 35 years, the UK gas pipelines have been surveyed by single turbine helicopters, mainly Bell 206 JetRangers, but there was a interlude of a few years when the task was completed using Hughes 500Cs as well as a short-lived attempt using Schweizer 333s. In a break with this tradition, NationalGrid Gas is now going to be using Robinson R44 Raven IIs Other patrol contracts in the UK already use Robinson R44s, and the type is widely used in other countries – Canada in particular – for this sort of task.
Helicentre Aviation from Leicester, who have operated Bell 206s on this contract, announced in September 2013 that they had been awarded a new eight year contract with NationalGrid, and it would appear that some variation has occurred in the documentation to allow them to fly piston-engined helicopters. The company will be operating the Robinson R44s, and their swirly logo appears on the engine cover in the picture below. NationalGrid intentionally chose the fuel-injected Raven II over the carburetted Raven I. Thus far only one R44 has beem painted in NationalGrid colours, and we understand two others will follow – all via the paintshop of Edmondson Aviation at Thruxton.
National Grid provided HeliHub.com with the following statement “National Grid can confirm that it will be moving from using Bell 206 JetRanger helicopters to the more modern Robinson R44 helicopters on the gas pipeline patrol contract. The operator will be Helicentre Aviation based in Leicester. The colour of the helicopter is changing – this is the decision of the operator, but all helicopters operating on the pipeline contract will carry NationalGrid branding”
Jeremy Parkin – HeliHub.com
Photo by Graham Reeve, used with his express permission