Columbia Helicopters, April 01, 2013 - WASHINGTON via PRNewswire - Columbia Helicopters has taken delivery of the first three of ten heavy lift helicopters purchased from the Swedish Department of Defense. The total order includes six Boeing Vertol 107-II and four Kawasaki Vertol 107-II models. The price was not disclosed.
According to Columbia Helicopter's Public Relations Manager Dan Sweet, the three Boeing Vertol 107-II helicopters arrived at the Port of Tacoma, Washington, on March 25, where they will clear US Customs, and be loaded onto trucks for transshipment to the company's Aurora (Oregon) State Airport-based headquarters and maintenance facility, by March 29. The remaining three Boeing helicopters are ready to be shipped from Sweden, while shipping dates for the four Kawasaki Vertol V-II aircraft have not been determined.
Columbia Helicopters announced the purchase of the helicopters, spare parts and specialized support tooling in February of this year, following negotiations with the Swedish government in late 2012. Designated by Sweden as HkP-4s, the helicopters were operated in search and rescue, anti-submarine warfare, and mine-sweeping operations. With the Columbia Helicopters acquisition, Sweden's military has retired its remaining Boeing/Kawaski Vertol V-IIs, as it transitions to the more modern NH Industries-built NH90.
"All of the helicopters were very well maintained, and are under 10,000 flight hours, which, given our high utilization rate, is very low time," said Sweet. "Since the 107-II is not readily available on the international market, this presented an excellent opportunity for us to purchase more of the same type of helicopter we already operate."
Columbia Helicopters will refurbish and modify each helicopter to meet the operator's fleet standards, and bring them up to mission-ready status for heavy lift work and aerial firefighting. One of the newly arrived helicopters, in fact, will go into Columbia's maintenance shop upon arrival, while the others will by cycled through as capacity permits.
"The amount of work to be done will depend on what we find, but they will be repainted in our livery, and the interiors modified to give the helicopters maximum lift," said Sweet. He added that each of the twin-engine, twin rotor aircraft's Rolls-Royce powerplants will be replaced by the GE CT-58 engines which have a maximum power rating of 1,500 SHP. The refurbishments and modifications are expected to take approximately one year each, but that could be expedited if market conditions demand. Sweet pointed out that the company will work closely with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to add the newer helicopters to Columbia Helicopters' Type Certificate as quickly as possible.
The helicopter purchase represents the second time that Columbia has acquired helicopters from the Swedish military. In 1991, the company bought four V-IIs, of which two are still in operation.
"Columbia Helicopters' buy-out of the surplus Swedish V-II helicopter fleet, spare parts and tooling shows how private enterprise operators engaged in aerial firefighting are meeting the challenges of increasingly destructive fire seasons anticipated in the years ahead," said Tom Eversole, Executive Director of the American Helicopter Services and Aerial Firefighting Association (AHSAFA) in Washington. "With ten additional aircraft, the company will make a tremendous contribution to the nation's aerial firefighting assets."
Columbia Helicopters is a member of AHSAFA, the Washington-based trade association representing the commercial operators of helicopters and fixed wing aircraft engaged in aerial wildland firefighting.