Shipping Helicopters via Ocean
Shipping Helicopters via Ocean Vessel
The helicopter industry in North America is by no means limited to this continent. In addition to the four major manufacturers shipping their helicopters overseas (and importing parts), many companies choose to send their aircraft to the US or Canada for maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) services.
There are also a number of companies in North America that need to send their aircraft overseas to fulfill contract commitments. This is when helicopter shipping via ocean becomes a viable option.
You could, of course, choose to airfreight your aircraft. This is more common for medium to small helicopters, but it requires heavy dismantlement and is costly. If you are really looking to spend some $$, you could leave your aircraft mostly intact and ship via the Antonov. If you want your aircraft intact and on-site quickly, that is the way to go. As with all shipping methods, slower = cheaper.
There are three methods of shipping helicopters via ocean freight:
High Cube or Standard Container
Companies that are operating smaller aircraft, such as the AS350, Bell 206, Robinsons, etc. may choose to utilize a standard shipping container that most people are familiar with. This usually involves dismantling the aircraft extensively and placing the blades in crates along with other removed components.
40’ Flat Rack
Medium to large aircraft will have difficulty fitting inside of a container, an open side container (or flat rack) is the best method to use. The fuselage is usually placed on low shipping gear, the tailboom is removed and everything is packed tightly onto the 40’x 8’ rack. The open sides allow for overhang, such is the case when packing bell mediums onto a flat rack. Also if height is an issue the open design allows for much more room to work with.
Direct Discharge/Live Load/RORO
Some companies prefer to ship their aircraft almost fully intact (normally just blades removed), in ocean freight terms this is referred to as a RORO shipment (roll-on, roll-off). Depending on what part of the world you are from, this can also be referred to as a direct discharge.
Shipping helicopters via ocean take several forms and varies widely in cost, however one thing always remains constant. The helicopter has to be delivered to, or picked up from the port via truck and trailer.