Trans Mountain has safely operated the Trans Mountain pipeline system for nearly 70 years. Our comprehensive safety program includes measures such as in-line inspections, a leak detection system and 24/7 monitoring from our control centre, and right-of-way patrols from the ground and by helicopter.

We recently connected with Janelle, a Patrol Observer from Valley Helicopters, who has provided aerial patrols for Trans Mountain since 2010, to learn a bit more about this crucial role in our pipeline protection program.

What does an aerial patroller’s typical day look like?

Prior to starting the flight route, I review approved permits and other confirmed notifications provided by Trans Mountain. When in the air, I make observations and report any conditions or activities that may impact the integrity of the pipeline. Since no binoculars or technology are used in the air, an aerial patroller must have a keen eye with close attention to detail and knowledge of the pipeline location. Keep in mind, we patrol nearly 1,000 feet above the ground!

Aerial view of Roche à Perdrix in the Pocahontas area (Northeast of Jasper)

What are you looking for during a patrol?

I look for things occurring within 30 metres of the right-of-way, including ground disturbance activities, such as excavation and construction, burning waste material, landscaping and fencing.

I also pay attention to and report any natural hazards from erosion to landslides, vegetation growth or changes in the depth of cover over the pipeline.

What happens if you observe ground disturbance activities?

If I see someone digging close to the pipeline, for example, I take photos. Next, I contact Trans Mountain’s Pipeline Protection (PPL) team to determine whether the activity is permitted or not. If necessary, a Trans Mountain representative is immediately dispatched for an on-site investigation. This procedure is imperative in keeping people and the pipeline safe.

Janelle, Patrol Observer from Valley Helicopters

Is there a message you would want to share with people living or working near the pipeline?

If you live near a pipeline, it is important to know who to call and what permissions you might need. Always place a locate request by contacting your local One Call service or visiting prior to starting any ground disturbance work, be it digging a trench, crossing the right-of-way with a backhoe or installing a fence.

To learn more about our safety programs click here.