Lead Forensics

Aerial Saw Operations

Innovative Solution to Overgrown Foliage

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“You will be aware of the challenges that overgrown foliage presents to the UK infrastructure, particularly the rail network. Over 220 trains are damaged annually, while tree overhang continues to reach dangerous levels. Until now, there has been no effective solution in place. However, we would like to introduce you to the aerial saw, an innovative service that provides a practical and cost-effective solution to this ongoing challenge.”

Graham Talbot, Head of Vegetation Management

Our commitment is to provide high-quality Vegetation Management services to clients in the Rail, Road, Construction, and Utilities sectors. An innovative service we offer is Aerial Saw Operations, which is fully evaluated and approved by the Civil Aviation Authority.

Proven Safety Record

Aerial saw operations have traditionally been considered more dangerous; they are, in fact, very safe and offer significant cost savings when used in other countries. The aerial saw is used extensively worldwide, particularly throughout the USA, Scandinavia, and Europe. We are the first established operation in the UK; we can assure you that the whole operation is risk assessed to the satisfaction of the Civil Aviation Authority, which issues specific approvals for any work. They monitor and audit all operations, ensuring the highest levels of safety.

Alternative to Ground Operations

Aerial saw crews only use small, trained teams strictly controlled by Specialist Procedures and Operations (Part SPO) within a UK CAA-approved Safety Management System. This eliminates the risk of Working at Height for individuals who would otherwise be tasked with climbing trees or working from elevated platforms. 

A Cost-Effective Solution

Overseas utility and train companies have reported significant cost savings per mile when using the helicopter and aerial saw compared to ground-based crews. Scheduling aerial saw operations during blockades can be done with complete flexibility. Removing the overhanging foliage provides cost savings by reducing the risk of train damage.

Potential Time Savings

On average, the aerial saw can trim between 1 and 3 miles daily, whereas a ground-based crew would take about a week to complete the same amount of work that could be achieved with the aerial saw in one hour of flying. Additionally, aerial sawing teams can move the helicopter to a safe distance from the track within an agreed safe time margin before a train passes through. The helicopter can return to the site within minutes after safe train passage, reducing the need for full blockades.

No Terrain Limitations

The aerial saw can be flown into remote locations that are difficult and time-consuming to access using traditional ground-based methods.

Operational Efficiency

Transportation of staff and equipment, including setup, typically accounts for more than 90% of the work time, with less than 10% spent physically cutting the foliage. Using the aerial saw could mean the crew spends more than 70% of their time on-site cutting back foliage, leading to significant time and cost savings.

Reduces Environmental Impact

The aerial saw can access rugged terrain, wetlands, and other sensitive areas without causing harmful environmental damage. Roads are protected from damage that could result from frequent trips made by heavy equipment during the work schedule. 

Vegetation Management Strategy

In conclusion, introducing aerial saw operations to your vegetation management strategy can help to mitigate the risks and costs associated with overgrown foliage on the UK infrastructure. We believe this innovative service is a ‘game-changer’ and look forward to discussing it with you further.


Graham Talbot

Head of Vegetation Management

Frequently Asked Questions

An aerial saw is a type of saw that is flown through the air, usually by a helicopter, to trim trees in remote locations when they overgrow power lines, pipelines, or other infrastructure.

The aerial saw is suspended from a helicopter and flown alongside potentially troublesome tree branches. The saw is turned on and precisely piloted, normally making more than one pass by the branches to ensure adequate coverage. The branches are then picked up by a ground crew and disposed of properly.

Yes, an aerial saw can be used alongside a road or railway, as it is designed to trim trees near power lines, pipelines, or other infrastructure.

The aerial saw is only used by highly-trained crews who are familiar with using a saw of its construction and size, and they apply very strict protocols and precautions are in place to ensure safety. To use an aerial saw in a designated area, a safety buffer must be in place prior to work, and the operation must be monitored and certified by the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) for each business to use. The required certification and insurance coverage are earned only through safe operation of the aerial saw.

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