Letters / Give the ‘copter the chop

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YOUR readers may have seen a helicopter flying low over the suburbs or read the two-page “infomercial” produced by “The Canberra Times” on February 9.

quillAs usual, the actual cost of ActewAGL using a helicopter for inspecting powerlines is not revealed.

Many other organisations such as oil and gas authorities (pipeline inspection), National Parks (weed and feral animal control) and the bushfire authorities (fire breaks) have moved from the use of helicopters for inspection purposes to the use of drones, camera-equipped light aircraft and satellite imagery.  

As someone who occasionaily flies a helicopter myself, I can tell you that they are very expensive to run, especially at slow speed. The two-seat Robinson 22 that I fly costs around 15 cents per second all up, so the larger ActewAGL one would be much more and has to cover 2500 kilometres of transmission line.

ActewAGL may be aware that a Texas energy company, Xcel Energy, inspects 512,000 kilometres of electricity and natural gas infrastructure and uses beyond operator line-of-sight drones.  

Perhaps ActewAGL should examine this latest technology and advise us clients just how much their use of helicopters is costing us consumers.  Our electricity prices are already too high and their executive remuneration payments fall into the Ahmed Fahour (head of Australia Post) level on a per capita basis, so anything that can be done to lower costs would be a great to help consumers.

Ric Hingee, Duffy

Tailgating; who knows what works?

OUR road safety program continues to operate in blissful ignorance of which parts of it are or are not working.

Thirty-five thousand Canberra drivers since 2007 have caused rear-end crashes that killed four people, injured almost a thousand and damaged about 70,000 vehicles.

Only about 2000 of those drivers were fined for failing to keep a safe following distance.

For most of that period there has been a “Don’t tailgate” sign on City Hill and ACT Policing has conducted an annual blitz on tailgating. The effectiveness of these measures has not been reviewed, even though rear-end crashes are increasing.

On February 14 the Road Safety Minister announced a trial of chevron road markings to educate drivers about safe following distances, but again with no mention of any evaluation.

Leon Arundell, Downer

Profit ahead of child safety

AS a footnote to Tim Gavel’s advocacy of learning to swim by school students (CN, February 9, “The life skill we can’t keep overlooking”), the NSW Department of Sport and Recreation used to run a very successful learn-to-swim program (Swimsafe).

This was discontinued on ideological grounds; the department was competing with private sector for-profit providers.

Not even child safety could be allowed to block private profiteering.

Stephen Brown, Forrest

Compulsory mustering!

POLITICAL columnist Michael Moore quite rightly states that Australia does not have “compulsory voting”, even though the Museum of Democracy tells its visitors so.

The term should be a “compulsory muster”.

Ben Gershon, Curtin


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