Helicopter Firm Aids Ski Lift Refurbishment

Jul 23, 2013, 10:54 ET from American Helicopter Services & Aerial Firefighting Association

WASHINGTON, July 23, 2013 /PRNewswire-iReach/ -- Columbia Helicopters has successfully deployed one of its aircraft in support of a major ski lift refurbishment project in the Pacific Northwest during the past week.

(Photo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20130723/MN51208)    

The twin rotor helicopter, a Columbia Helicopters Vertol 107-II, was contracted to the Stevens Pass Ski Resort, in North-Central Washington State, to facilitate the removal and replacement of the steel cross arms from 13 lift towers of its Jupiter Ski Lift, which is being converted to a high-speed, detachable quad system.  The cross arms are the main support structures for the cables that move the lift chair.

Ski lift construction and refurbishment is a very specialized segment of the heavy-lift helicopter industry because of the high precision flying skill levels required, according to Dan Sweet, Public Relations Manager for the Portland, Oregon-based operator.

"The helicopters have to be able to suspend the cross arms very steadily so that the construction crews can attach them to the towers," Sweet explained.  "The towers, themselves, are equipped with attachment bolts, while the cross arms contain the holes into which the bolts will fit.  The trick is to help the construction crews align the bolts and holes precisely—while the helicopter is in a hover mode."

Along with the cross arm replacement, Columbia Helicopters was tasked to move freshly mixed concrete to the ski lift upper terminal, and a new tower point midway through the existing tower run.  The concrete was loaded directly from cement mixer trucks into 1.5 cubic yard capacity buckets, which the helicopter hauled at low level to the sites, extending over almost 1.25 miles of rugged terrain, with little or no access for ground vehicles.

"Approximately 10-12 hours of flight time were estimated for the two phases of the project," said Sweet, adding that the helicopter deployment involved two pilots, four mechanics, and two supervisors, with one each stationed at the upper terminal, and the mid-run tower point.

Ski lift construction and servicing are among Columbia Helicopter's niches, having carried out similar projects in California, Colorado, Oregon and New Zealand.  The company, which currently has a fleet of 13 active heavy lift, twin rotor Vertol 107-IIs, and six Model 234 Chinook helicopters, specializes in the support of construction, natural resource extraction and wildland firefighting—with three 107s and one Chinook currently on exclusive use contracts with the US Forest Service.

Columbia Helicopters is a member of the American Helicopter Services and Aerial Firefighting Association (AHSAFA), the Washington, DC-based trade association representing the commercial operators of helicopters and fixed wing aircraft engaged in aerial wildland firefighting.

Media Contact: Tom Eversole, American Helicopter Services & Aerial Firefighting Association, 703040904355, teversole@ahsafa.org

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SOURCE American Helicopter Services & Aerial Firefighting Association