The safety of tree trimming with helicopters

WEST LIBERTY, Ohio (WDTN) -2 NEWS looks at the safety of using a helicopter for tree trimming after one crashes in West Liberty Tuesday.

2 NEWS was first to tell you about the crash Tuesday in Logan county where the helicopter was trimming back trees for a new bike path. The pilot, Leo Boucher of New Hampshire, is in serious condition.

He’s being treated at Grant Hospital in Columbus.

According to police, Leo Boucher was cutting trees in this helicopter before it crashed.

He worked for a South Carolina company called Rotor Blade.

Their website says they specialize in airborn vegetation management. We called them to see what exactly they do but haven’t heard back.

But we did learn tree trimming with helicopters is a growing service that power and utility companies are using especially in the northwest.

American Transmission Company out of Wisconsin said they use a tree trimming helicopter contractor .

The spokesperson for that company tells me they help separate trees and power lines in an efficient way. She said they are usually used in rural areas that ground crews can’t easily get to.

This is how they work: a number of spinning buzz saws are placed in a row and attached to the bottom of the helicopter. They dangle while the helicopter hovers above the tree line, cutting down excess brush.

2 NEWS Investigates wanted to know what kind of training goes into operating a helicopter with spinning blades.

According to the FAA, operators don’t need a special certification. pilots must demonstrate they know what they are doing on a check ride with an inspector.

We asked what specifically that inspector looks for and are waiting on an answer.

The FAA said they don’t have much to do with the policies and procedures. They say that is up to the employer.

According to records we obtained, Boucher does have a commercial pilot’s certificate and the FAA tells us they were aware the helicopter he was flying in was used for tree-trimming.

2 NEWS Investigates checked the history of the helicopter that crashed Tuesday. According to the FAA there are no accidents or incidents on record for the helicopter or the company who owns it, DAH out of Delaware.

The FAA is still investigating.

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