How to Ship a Helicopter
Shipping a helicopter may seem daunting, but it doesn’t need to be. With the proper preparation and planning, getting your helicopter from point A to point B can be surprisingly simple. Whether you’re a first-time or experienced shipper, understanding the basics of helicopter shipping is essential. From selecting the right transportation method to preparing the helicopter for transport, there are a few key steps to ensure a successful voyage. Knowing how to ship a helicopter can help you feel confident in your shipping process and ensure your helicopter reaches its destination safely and on time.
Why Ship a Helicopter?
There are several reasons to ship a helicopter. Maybe you just sold it and need to transport it to the new owner. Or, maybe you just purchased a helicopter from an auction and need it hauled safely. True, you could fly it, but if that isn’t an option, heavy haul trucking is your best alternative. Experts in the industry will safely ship your helicopter anywhere in the United States and even overseas.
Transporting a Helicopter by Land, Air, or Sea
Highway transport is the most affordable option for shipping a helicopter. However, depending on the distance, it may take more time and put the aircraft at greater risk of harm if not managed by trained personnel.
The next most cost-effective choice is shipment via sea, specifically via container ship. Customers pay a set charge for a standard container instead of paying by the pound for air. However, when dealing with larger aircraft, the confines of a 40-foot container can prove challenging. There is usually a lot of taking apart and putting back together involved.
Nowadays, container shipping is fraught with delays, no matter the cargo, leading to higher costs for everyone. The time it takes to put the airplane into its container, sail to the destination, unload the container, and go through customs could make shipping by container ship the most time-consuming choice. There are other ways to transport goods over the ocean besides using containers.
RORO shipping employs specially built vessels to transport wheeled cargo in a fully sealed-off and temperature-controlled cargo bay; the service is more expensive than container shipping but still more cost-effective than air transport. Rotor blades are stored in bins under the helicopter’s tail boom while it is fastened to a specialized MAFI trailer. Once the ship is ready, the trailers are rolled onto the deck and locked in place. At the destination, they can be rolled off just as quickly. The airplane doesn’t need a lot of disassembly because of this configuration.
Transportation by air is costly, particularly for larger, heavier choppers. Still, it also has the advantage of being the quickest, with delivery times of just a day or two.
Know The Size and Dimensions of Your Helicopter Transport
Smaller or medium-sized helicopters can be transported in fully enclosed shelters using specialist helicopter shipping trailers with retractable tarps. These shelters provide the best protection against the elements and road debris. Since theft and vandalism should never be taken lightly, an enclosed space is best for a helicopter. Retractable tarps shield the chopper from the elements while keeping it out of sight.
Larger helicopters would require an extended low-bed trailer or a standard open-deck trailer. For example, a Bell 412 can be easily carried on a low-bed transport trailer by removing the rotor blades.
Prepare Your Helicopter Ready for Shipping
After deciding on the method of helicopter transport, the next step is getting it ready for shipment. Under the shipper’s instruction, a mechanic or engineer can take apart the aircraft, drain the fuel tanks, remove the batteries and ELTs, secure the gyros, and make other necessary preparations. Transport companies focusing on aircrafts will have shipping rigs tailored to different types of airframes to ensure the safety of each plane during transit.
Additional steps to take before shipping a helicopter include securing any movable things, clearing the area around the windows, so nothing falls on them, and covering the plane if it is exposed during transport.
Final Heavy Haulers Thought on Helicopter Transport
Transporting a helicopter involves a lot of skill. Helicopter transport requires skilled drivers and workers who know all about helicopter assembly and disassembly. They also need shipping and loading experience. Each helicopter has specific needs, and finding the optimal solution for each transport requires careful planning and logistics.
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