What was a helicopter doing over Mercer County Park in West Windsor on Wednesday afternoon?

A helicopter with an aerial saw blade over Mercer County Park in West Windsor (Brian McCartney)

The chopper with a long blade hanging off its bottom was a demonstration by JCP&L of an aerial saw blade to be used to trim trees along its transmission lines.

JCP&L spokesman Ron Morano says the saw is a "more efficient and more effective" method of maintenance in hard to reach areas.

The aerial saw blade consists of multiple 24-inch rotary blades powered by a motor suspended on a vertical boom beneath it. As the helicopter flies slowly along the right-of-way, the aerial saw cuts and trims trees and other vegetation.

Aerial saw blade (JCP&L)

Today's demonstration over 230,000 volt tramsmission lines show how the blades cleanly and quickly cut tree limbs 8-10" without tearing them. The limbs fall straight down, assisted by air blasts from the rotors of the helicopter.

 

Besides getting into difficult areas, the aerial saw reduces the risk of injury to workers who don't need to use bucket trucks or climb trees near high voltage lines. It also helps maintain trees that might otherwise need to be removed.

JCP&L and its parent company FirstEnergy has been using aerial saws for 16 years and they have not been shown to cause abnormal tree  mortality when compared to traditional methods .

Photo and video courtesy Brian McCarthy