The Team

“It is a huge team effort, we know that we can rely on each other to get the job done in the safest possible way which is of the utmost importance to all involved.” - Robin Tutcher, Accountable Manager


The crew of the helicopter is normally made up of a pilot, observer and an assistant observer. In order to operate safely and efficiently the crew are highly integrated and work seamlessly together to achieve the task being undertaken in an incredibly dynamic environment.

The Pilot


Ultimately the pilot is responsible for the safe operation of the helicopter during all stages of flight. Their key role is to safely position the aircraft in order to allow the observer to inspect the network.

All of our pilots are highly proficient, experienced and undergo a recurrent rigorous training and checking programme specifically designed for operations in the low-level environment.

The Observer


A National Grid authorised overhead inspector, the Observer acts as the ‘mission commander’ providing both network navigation when on patrol and the visual inspection of the network by identifying and reporting on any one of fifty defects that may be present on a wood pole or tower.

The Assistant Observer / Mission System Operator


In order to provide as much information as possible during the patrols, the aircraft are fitted with several sensors including thermal, corona, high-definition video and stills cameras along with a laser detection and ranging system known as LiDAR. All of these are operated by the mission systems operator.

Our History. Our Future

National Grid’s helicopter unit will celebrate its 60th year of operation in 2023 having provided inspection services since its inception in 1963 for the Bristol Port Authority.

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All at once, all in real time.

All five helicopters have recently been modified to install state-of-the-art sensing equipment producing an entirely unique system which provides real-time visual inspection, non-visual spectrum inspection and LiDAR capture all on one flight.

And that is just the beginning.

The Technology