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December 2006 / January 2007 - The Logging and Sawmilling Journal

 

HELI LOGGING

THE UPS AND DOWNS OF HELI-LOGGING

Constant changes in the forest industry have resulted in some smaller companies that were doing heli-logging going by the wayside, but the surviving companies could see more work coming their way in the form of harvesting beetleinfested timber.

By Diane Mettler

Ask someone in heli-logging how business is going and they will inevitably answer, “Up and down.” But that’s probably a good answer in more ways than one.

Lance Tanner, operations manager for Pacific Air Crane, a charter company providing support for the heavy lifters, underscores some of the downs. “Business is a lot tougher than it was eight or nine years ago, partly because of the softwood tariffs. We’re supposed to be seeing resolution to the softwood dispute, but that has yet to unfold as to how it will really work for companies.”

Some of the recent “ups” have included a booming housing market and high timber prices, making logging in general more profitable. On the flip side, recent “downs” have been increased fuel prices and maintenance costs.

“When your operating costs get so high that you’re extracting a product that is worth less than what your operating costs are, then it doesn’t work any more. And we are very close to that now with fuel increases and parts increases and a decrease in the lumber market,” says Bud Kaufman, president of the Croman Corporation.

In the future, maintenance costs are likely to rise as the heavy-lifting fleet gets older and parts get harder to come by. But more work may be on its way for heli-logging in the form of beetle-infested timber.

These constant changes in the industry have definitely weeded out the smaller companies. “Back around 2000, you had a lot of guys who had a single Bell 204, 205 or 212 and called themselves a heli-logging company,” recalls Tanner. “At that time there was no other work for the helicopters, so these guys said, ‘Lets go do some heli-logging.’ But very few of those smaller companies are around anymore.

Your main helicopter companies—like Canadian Air-Crane, Helifor, Croman Corp, Coulson and VIH—have dedicated divisions to helicopter logging and have invested millions and millions of dollars.”

But despite the dramatic “ups and downs” of heli-logging, things are still looking up. “I can only speak for Pacific Air-Crane,” says Tanner, “but we’re flying strong. Our maintenance program is working well and the aircraft are putting in their hours.”

Heli-logging Capability Guide

Company/Contact Info

# of Years

# of Helicopters

Make/Model

Total Payload

Ground Support

Black Tusk Helicopters Inc
www.blacktuskhelicopter.com

10

5

Bell214(2)
Bell206(2)
AstarBA

8,000lbs

Complete crew capable from hill to mill, and stump to dump.

Canadian Air-Crane Ltd
www.air-crane.com

20

4

SikorskyS64

20,000lbs

None.

Croman Corp
www.croman.net

28

8 (total)
1 in Canada

SikorskyS61

10,000lbs

Full ground support, from tugs to 1 in Canada camps, including dryland sort.

Hayes Helicopter Services Limited
www.hayes.bc.ca

40+

7

SikorskyS61
HeavyLift(3)
Bell206(4)

10,000lbs

Satellite-linked mobile office unit, mobile enviro fuel storage systems, fire trucks, water drop equipment, barge camps, fuel barge, qualified flight, maintenance, and ground crews.

Helifor Canada Corp
www.helifor.com

27

5

BoeingVertol
BoeingChinook

10,500lbs
28,00lbs

Full range of ground support equipment and personnel.

Pacific Air Crane Ltd & Pacific International Helilog
Tel: (604) 514-4342

10

2

Sikorsky61
Bell206

10,000lbs

Hangar and helicopter maintenance facility at Langley airport. Lot crews, 5 log loaders, 3 front end loaders, trucks. Processors, 6 boom/tug/crew boats, mobile camps, fuel trucks, enviro tanks and other equipment. Five years logging under EMS, ISO 14001 procedures. Fire fighting capability. Pioneer log sort, located at Maple Ridge, BC.

Prism Helicopters Ltd
www.prism-helicopters.com

20

22

MD500D
AStar350
Bell205

1,200lbs
1,600lbs
4,000lbs

Longlines, grapples, pruning blade, stretcher kit.

Timberland Helicopters Inc
Tel: (250)703-0234

12

3

Eurocopter330
Eurocopter315

3,500lbs
1,000lbs

Madill 2800 log loader and all ground support equipment for aircraft.

Tundra Helicopters
Tel: (604) 534-6535

28

1

Bell 212

4,000lbs

Full ground support

VIH Helicopters Ltd
www.vih.com

15

6 heavy lift

KamovKA32(3)
SikorskyD61(3)

11,000lbs
10,000lbs

All fuel trucks, service vans, a fleet of Bell 206 jet rangers, two 40 man float camps.

Wildcat Helicopters Inc
www.wildcathelicopters.com

6

4

Bell 212

4,500lbs

Ground support engineering.

 

 


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