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In September 2020, Slave Lake Helicopters was part of a team that brought high-speed fiber optic data communications to the Little Red River Cree Nation in northern Alberta — a remote community of 4,600 people located 460 miles (750 kilometers) north of Edmonton. This infrastructure improvement project was supported by the Government of Canada and led by the Arrow Technology Group, along with a skilled team from ATCO Electric, Alberta’s utility provider.
To reach the community of Fox Lake, the fiber line’s route took it over the Peace River, piggybacking on ATCO Electric’s high-voltage transmission lines. The fiber cable was pulled to the top of a power tower, then across the river. Powerline technicians on five towers, including one on an island in the middle of the river, strung and secured the new fiber line.
AFL, a company specializing in fiber optic cables, deployed its self-powered SkyWrap cable spinning machine to wrap the fiber cable around the high-voltage transmission line between the towers.
Of the two AStars Slave Lake Helicopters had working on the project, one was used to long line gear, and the other, equipped with Slave Lake Helicopter’s AStep, flew powerline technicians to the tops of the towers.
The AStep is a custom-designed platform that enhances safety during personnel transfers from a helicopter to the top of a transmission tower.