Text: Jacques Vincent - Pictures: Jacques Vincent & Heliswiss - Translation: Marc Arys  ©sbap 2020
 
An operation of a very special kind was carried out during the weekend of 5 and 6 December. This operation took place in the region of Anderlues in the Belgian province of Hainaut.
It is there that a hertzian transmission mast belonging to the Belgian Radio and Television company commonly known as RTBF (F for the French-speaking part of the country) was installed. For the inhabitants of the region, it is a landmark called "the Anderlues antenna" and it has been part of the region's heritage for more than 50 years!
Our collaborator, who went to the site to immortalise the operation consisting of replacing various elements, was able to obtain some information from a technician from the national channel.
 
The (c/n 2033) from Heliswiss in Belgian grey sky
The location of the antenna via Google Earth

A little geographical precision. This antenna is located on the highest point of the Hainaut province and it includes a geodesic station. The highest point in the municipality of Anderlues where the antenna is located, is also the average highest point in Belgium, culminating at a height of 212.24 meters.

This geodesic point is located at the place called "Le Planty" at the limit of the municipality of Buvrinnes. A geodesic marker is a permanent marker that marks the exact location of a geodesic point whose longitude, latitude and altitude are precisely known. They often consist of a set of stones or concrete blocks.

However, at Anderlues, this marker is made up of an old cannon barrel dating from the Napoleonic period.

 
   
Heliswiss International AG, is a Swiss helicopter company with headquarters on the property of Bern Airport in Belp, Switzerland, near Bern.
Heliswiss is the oldest helicopter company in Switzerland and was founded as "Heliswiss Schweizerische Helikopter AG" with headquarters in Berne-Belp on April 17th, 1958. This was the beginning of helicopter flying in Switzerland. During the following years Heliswiss expanded in Switzerland and formed a network with bases at Belp, Samedan, Domat Ems, Locarno, Erstfeld, Gampel, Gstaad and Gruyères.
During the build-up of the rescue-company Schweizerische Rettungsflugwacht (REGA) as an independent network, Heliswiss carried out rescue missions on their behalf.
Heliswiss carries out operations all over the world: in Greenland, Suriname, North Africa and South America.
The first helicopter owned by Heliswiss was a Bell 47 G-1 and was registered as HB-XAG on September 23rd, 1953. From 1963 Heliswiss started to expand and began to operate with medium helicopters like the Agusta Bell 204B with a turbine power of 1050 HP and an external load possibility of up to 1500 kg. From 1979 Heliswiss operated a Bell 214 (external load up to 2.8 t). Since 1991 Heliswiss operates a Russian Kamov 32A12 which was joined by a second one in 2015.

Heliswiss International AG fleet:
1 x AS 332 Super Puma C1 (HB-XVY - c/n 2033)
1 x Kamov KA 32 A11BC (HB-XKA - c/n 8807/016)
1 x Kamov KA 32 A12 (HB-XKE - c/n 8709/02)

 

(Courtesy Heliswiss)

 (Courtesy Heliswiss)
  

This new antenna was made in Germany, the assembly and wiring done by a French firm and the aerial support is provided by a helicopter from Switzerland at a total cost of 950,000 €.
It should be noted that the Belgian TV channel has also planned to replace antennas located in other places such as Profondeville, Froidmont and l'Eglise. The three antenna replacements are scheduled for the year 2021. These costly replacements are necessary to be able to switch to the new digital technologies for DVB (Digital Video Broadcasting) television and to access DAB (Digital Audio Broadcasting) radio.
The base tower up to the 'chair' (the square part providing the base for the emitter) is some 140 metres high, to which must be added the height of the antenna itself to reach a height of 154 metres.
The old antenna weighed around 7.4 tonnes and thanks to new technology, the new one only weighs 4.2 tonnes. On top of the antenna there is a shaft, which contains a stabilisation system in case of high winds.
It is obvious that no ground crane is sufficient for this kind of exercise, and it is for this kind of work, that helicopters, beasts of burden in the aeronautical world, are often used. Originally an Austrian company was selected to carry out the work, but following a last-minute withdrawal, the project managers had to turn to a replacement in an emergency, and so the Heliswiss company inherited the contract.
An interview with the pilot provided some additional information, and it became clear that Heliswiss specialises in working in the mountains, maintaining or placing high-voltage electricity pylons, installing ski lifts or cable cars, but has almost never worked on communications systems. This is therefore a first for this company, which has been able to set its mark in this field in Belgium.
It should also be noted that during operations, the pilot is alone at the controls of the helicopter, and during the mission, was assisted by an engineer from the television company in the seat of the co-pilot, solely for the guidance and observation of the manoeuvres.

  
  
The Flying Crane
 
An amazing big machine in the Belgian countryside High vizz markings...
The large bubble windows... ...a necessity for this king of work
Front mirrors, another necessity for a well done job Rear view of the Super Puma
Xray Victor Yankee
 
 
The Operation
 
The elements to be replaced wait in the neighboring field Technicians check the wiring before assembling the elements
Intermediate platform on the antenna mast Delicate work and not only for the Super Puma pilot
Go to work The sling is in place to take the first element
It is imperative to know the diameter of the rotor to avoid a disaster! The support element being to be mounted
Pick up the following element The utility of the bubble window and the mirrors is evident
General underside view of the flying crane
Placement of the mast on which the transmitter will be fixed
Bottom view with the sling compartment Going for the next part

Placement of transmission and stabilization systems in case of strong wind
Mission accomplished
 

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