PJ Helicopters, March 09, 2017 - PJ Helicopters (PJH) has operated the Bell 214B-1 platform continuously since 2005, for utility, forestry, and construction operations.
Additionally, in recent years PJH has teamed up with McDermott Aviation, Australia’s largest privately-held heli-aviation company, to ensure the 214 succeeds on jobsites worldwide.
With a maximum gross external load rating of 16,000 pounds, internal maximum gross of 13,800 pounds, and up to 14-passenger capacity, the Bell 214 continues to be one of the most diverse multi-role aircraft in existence. The B-1 variant of the 214 was type certified with maximum gross internal weight of 12,500 pounds (5,670 kilograms) and was the variation in use by PJ Helicopters.
However, Bell Helicopter’s original variant of just the ‘B’ model was certified at 13,800 pounds (6,260 kilograms). The ‘B’ and ‘B-1’ variants are the exact same aircraft with only small changes to the flight manual and dataplate, which historically has presented both a challenge and an opportunity to operators like PJH.
After years of operation as B-1s, PJH has led the charge to obtain certification and provide the additional 1,300 pounds of useful weight to U.S. firefighting agencies and utility/construction customers, and to show industries worldwide that the 214 ‘big lifter’ is here to stay and continues to be a useful asset.
In early February 2016, PJH begin working with regional Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) personnel to submit a Flight Standards Inspector Resource Program (FSIRP), certifying an inspector capable of the B214 type rating. This was required as no inspector in the FAA registry was in possession of the approval due to the low amount of operational 214s in the U.S.
The FSIRP was subsequently denied as the type rating designation did not exist for the 214 in the FAA database. PJH then leveraged the assistance of California State Senators in explaining the co-development of the altered type certification with the inspector approval to the FAA Primary Approval Office in Washington, D.C.
PJH and regional FAA representatives then approached the Western-Pacific Regional Flight Standards Division to further the requests. This time, the effort proved successful and in July of 2016, the BH-14 type rating was added to the FAA’s rating table. In the following months a letter of authorization (LOA) was issued and approved to certify an FAA inspector capable of giving type rides to 214 captains.
“This was no easy task,” said Justin Chaffin, asst. chief pilot/heavy aircraft division director. “The 214 is an amazing aircraft with staggering potential, but has had confusion surrounding the B/B-1 variations ever since being manufactured. As the premier U.S.-operator of the 214 type, we remain committed to this airframe and the level of safety and performance it provides our customers. This weight increase and re-certification is the culmination of years of hard work and effort to ensure the industry understands this machine and all of its capabilities.”
To date, PJ Helicopters has had eight 214 captains type-certified and approved in the 214-B category and the company remains optimistic and excited to provide this added benefit to customers in 2017 and beyond.