Hovering helo this morning? Just a routine inspection, says Dominion

Helicopter hovering over power lines across from The Parker apartment building.
The helicopter flies near Huntington on Wednesday morning. (Image courtesy of Jim Swift)

It’s not particularly unusual to see helicopters flying through the Richmond Highway area. But the site of one hovering low — and loud — near Huntington on Wednesday morning got the attention of quite a few folks.

The low-flying black chopper slowly make its way back and forth in the Huntington and Telegraph Road area for about 10 minutes, leading curious residents to post pictures on social media and wonder what was going on.

It turns out the helicopter had a good reason to be there: It was working for Dominion Energy, flying low to get a good look at the high-voltage transmission lines during what the company said was just a regular inspection.

“[I]t is a routine quality control aerial inspection of transmission lines that we conduct periodically,” said Dominion spokesman Charles Penn. “We deploy drones sometimes and actual helicopters during other inspections.”

The aerial inspections allow Dominion to get a closer look at equipment and check for structural issues. It also lets them see if any structures on the ground (pools, sheds, etc.) or vehicles are encroaching on the transmission lines’ right-of-way.

The energy provider began using drone in 2014 as a way to cut down on patrol times and increase safety. However that’s unlikely to happen soon in this area — flying drones within 15-mile radius of Reagan National Airport is prohibited by the FAA.