United States

PanQuote

Panalpina offers forwarding services along with logistics support and supply chain management. Please note that Panalpina does not handle transportation of personal effects, nor household goods for any private individual.

If you have a regular contact person at Panalpina, please enter the name in the form so that your request will be forwarded accordingly.

We will respond to your request within 24 hours. At times, however, it is necessary for us to obtain further details from our overseas colleagues and it may take us a little longer.

Case Study 3

Seven helicopters in one airplane

Panalpina’s Heliship division has decades of experience in transporting helicopters to destinations worldwide. Its cargo is expensive and prone to damage – at the same time cost efficiency dictates that available cargo space has to be used to the maximum. Sometimes that means fitting seven helicopters in one single cargo machine.

 

On July 13, 2012, seven Bell helicopters are waiting at Prince George Airport in British Columbia, Canada, to be loaded into an Antonov 124. They are ready to go on a mission overseas organized by VIH Helicopters Ltd. VIH operate a diverse fleet of helicopters and have a team of experienced pilots and aircraft maintenance personnel who are trained to handle any task around the globe. Panalpina was chosen to arrange the transport of this oversized cargo because of its proven and specialized experience, which is well known in the helicopter industry.

 

Every centimeter counts

Planning for the mission started already a few months beforehand. The goal was to load as many helicopters as possible into one Antonov 124 to help spread the high cost of the aircraft trip. Initially it appeared that only six helicopters would fit into the cargo hold but close cooperation between the customer, the carrier Volga-Dnepr and Panalpina resulted in a detailed load plan that allowed for fitting a total of seven helicopters.

A rare event in Prince George

Prince George airport, in northern British Columbia, does not see many overseas flights. The Antonov 124 had only landed there once before, over ten years ago. The special cargo flight was hence a big deal in Prince George and the local population and media turned out in force to watch the arrival of the huge cargo plane.

Loading operation with care

Loading is always a challenging task. This load, however, was especially demanding, considering the large number of helicopters as well as a fuselage height of 4.09 meters and a length of 13.11 meters of each helicopter. A good preparation of the cargo is key. In this case, main and tail rotor blades had to be removed and crated, the aircraft defueled and batteries disconnected. The 3.5-ton helicopters – ground-handling wheels were temporarily attached to the landing gear – were winched up the ramp into the cavernous Antonov hold. Using a winch allowed the very able loading crew to move each helicopter smoothly, slowly and safely to its desired position. Once there, they were then properly secured and tied down, just centimeters away from the next helicopter. It took a full six hours before all seven aircrafts and various support equipment were loaded and both nose and tail openings of the Antonov were shut. The next day, as the huge Ukrainian cargo plane took off, the noise was deafening and air vibrations were shaking spectators’ lungs.

Returning to home base

On October 14, 2012, after a successful mission, the helicopters were again loaded into an Antonov 124. This time under more difficult conditions: The operation took place on a hot and dark evening at a tropical airport. Nevertheless, on the next afternoon, the valuable load arrived back in Prince George. Seven helicopters were rolled down the ramp and ten cargo attendants descended alongside them – back home.