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Here’s why yellow helicopters are buzzing over Metro Vancouver

Talon Helicopters has been contracted by FortisBC to inspect pipelines
Talon Helicopter web
Talon Helicopters' TwinStar helicopter flies low over the North Shore in September 2022, with a LiDAR scanning device attached to the belly.

While Talon’s yellow helicopters may be familiar to you for the important work they do with North Shore Rescue, that’s not why they’ve been flying low over various areas of Metro Vancouver this week.

From April 26 to June 15, some of the company’s bright yellow whirlybirds have been contracted by FortisBC to inspect pipelines throughout the region.

This work is part of FortisBC’s annual inspection of its high-pressure transmission natural gas lines, Talon said in a notice that went out to municipalities.

The low-flying helicopters use aerial LiDAR (light detection and ranging) technology to inspect the pipelines.

“This technology is used to detect any issues to ensure FortisBC’s system continues to operate safely, reliably and to plan maintenance activities accordingly,” reads the notice.

Helicopters could be seen overhead in North Vancouver and West Van on Wednesday, but Talon said work on the North Shore has now been completed.

Talon said it was working east from Surrey on Thursday, which should complete the flights over the Lower Mainland.

But Metro Vancouver is just one of 23 regional districts in B.C. that Talon will fly over.

Any flight time over a single area will be minimal, and there will be no activity on the ground related to the flights, the company said.