A helicopter subcontracted by PAR Electrical Contractors for construction on San Diego Gas & Electric’s (SDG&E) Sunrise Powerlink transmission line project on August 4 was transporting a 5,000-pound air compressor under calm conditions with a 200-foot load line from the Plaster City construction yard in the Imperial Valley. Almost halfway to a work site, the load line failed and the compressor fell to the desert floor. No one was injured and, other than the compressor, no property was damaged.
This is the first Sunrise Powerlink construction incident involving a Kaman K-Max K-1200 helicopter. In June, SDG&E reported two incidents involving a larger Erickson Air-Crane helicopter that was transporting transmission line tower sections.
Air compressors are used to help drill foundations for transmission towers. The incident occurred at about 7:30 a.m. near the project’s right-of-way, about three-quarters of a mile west of the Plaster City construction yard.
All appropriate safety measures were in place during the flight, including a morning safety meeting and visual inspection of the line before flight operations commenced. The flight path did not cross any roads, and no residents or structures were under the helicopter at any time. The Federal Aviation Administration, the California Public Utilities Commission, the Bureau of Land Management and other agencies were immediately notified about the incident.
PAR and SDG&E have launched a full investigation to determine the cause of this incident. As part of the investigation, PAR will immediately inspect all rigging lines used on the project as a precautionary measure.