HeliHub.com can reveal that National Grid will be adding a second Bell 429 in the next few months – adding to their first example of the type which they took delivery of in the summer of 2013. The aircraft is currently in completion with Bell Flight in Prague, Czech Republic.
National Grid is responsible for reliably and safely running the gas and electricity networks across the UK. Their first foray into helicopter ownership came in 1985 with the acquisition of the first of a series of four Airbus AS355s, the last of which, an NP model, was acquired in 2009 and remains in their fleet today.
Looking ahead, the AS355NP will ultimately be used for repair projects, while the two 429s will be dedicated to patrolling the power lines. However, this plan will not be in place for another 10-12 months, as the arrival of the second 429 is timed well for the upcoming 12 year overhaul due on the Airbus.
In recent years the AS355 has flown an average of 525 hours per year, with the 429 slightly higher at around 600.
National Grid also sub-contracts the patrol of the UK gas pipeline network to Helicentre Aviation, who operated a number of NG-branded Robinson R44 Raven IIs for the task.
Jeremy Parkin – HeliHub.com
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