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Monday, July 1, 2013

Essential Ground Equipment: A Quick Guide

“The helicopter is probably the most versatile instrument ever invented by man. It approaches closer than any other to fulfillment of mankind’s ancient dreams of the flying horse and the magic carpet. –Igor Sikorsky

By Dale Smith

Having the right equipment on the ground makes it easier and more efficient to keep helicopters in the air. While there are a lot of differences between helicopters and airplanes, one of the biggest is that there is no such thing as a typical helicopter mission. Owner/operators are continually finding ways to put their amazing machines to work. And the requirement to do more in a shorter amount of time means time on the tarmac has to be kept to an absolute minimum. That increased uptime has lead to the development of some unique ground support equipment (GSE) solutions.

While in many instances today’s GSE products and units are very specialized and sophisticated, in many cases, the best solution to a specific need is found in seemingly simple piece of equipment.

Take a good, sturdy ladder for example. No magic there. But, when it comes to helicopter maintenance, a good ladder can be worth its weight in fuel.

“It’s a [helicopter] design issue that there is simply and frequently not enough solid surface area to stand on top the aircraft,” explained Todd Smith, general manager of Bristow Academy. “It’s most common with the light and medium helicopters particularly when working on the main rotor heads or performing a task that requires some exertion, such as torqueing a mast nut or blade bolt.”

Because everyone is so busy fixing the aircraft, “the poor condition of a ladder or stand goes unnoticed until it is time to use one, then it’s too late to do anything about it,” he stated. “So Bristow has developed a standard that addresses the design, inspection and maintenance of work stands, docking stations, ladders and platforms. It reduces the risk of a fall from a faulty piece of equipment.”

Purpose-built equipment that is inspected, maintained and used in accordance with published and standardized guidelines, Smith continued, “facilitates our folks being able to safely work at all heights and is probably our most important piece of ground support equipment.”

So what’s the essential piece(s) of ground equipment at your operation? A powered tow cart or possibly a lightweight portable GPU? Often an operator’s “best” piece of GSE is related to the environment they operate in. Someone on an oil rig in the Gulf may rely heavily on a compact engine washing unit, while an operator in the far north may find a good engine preheater invaluable.

As you might expect, the manufacturers of today’s GSE products certainly aren’t at a loss when it comes to offering up solutions to every operator’s situation. Rotor & Wing has done a bit of research to bring you a handful of the newest and most interesting GSE products.

Aeronautical Accessories Ground Handling Wheels


• Greatly simplifies the repositioning of aircraft

• Dual-wheel design reduces twisting and strain on skid tubes

• Unique lift design puts equal pressure on both sides of the skid when raising and lowering the aircraft

• Available in both hydraulic and mechanical models

• Lightweight, carry-along wheels for remote operations

• Available for a variety of helicopter models

Aero Specialties, Inc. AERO JetGo Diesel Hybrid Ground Power Unit


• 28.5V DC diesel-electric hybrid aircraft ground power unit

• Can be used without engine operating as hangar static cart producing 24V for maintenance

• Zero Bleed auto shutdown stops engine before it runs out of fuel

• 24V starting power remains in hybrid batteries even if engine shuts down due to low fuel

• LED safety lights illuminate when unit is in operation

• Stainless steel hardware for corrosion protection in any environment

• Built-in fail-safe extendable tow bar

Aero Specialties AERO B-4 Maintenance Platform/Stand

• Platform height: 37” to 87” (.94 cm – 221 cm)

• Platform area: 3’ x 7’ (91.4 cm x 213 cm)

• 750 lb (340 kg) load capacity

• Easy to operate, high-capacity manual hydraulic footpump

• Removable hand rails with onboard storage racks and safety chains

• Telescoping ladder to allow access at any height

• Platform locking pins for additional safety

Bruce’s Custom Covers Custom Helicopter Covers


• Reduces sun, heat, water damage to upholstery, avionics, engines, rotor hubs, tail rotors and main rotor blades

• Acrylic Sunbrella or Silver Solution-dyed polyester covers

• Sewn in pockets for pitot tubes temp probes and wire cutters

• Reinforced with patches at hinge points and door handles

• 100% lined with soft microfiber to avoid scratching

• Color-coded tabs (red/left and green/right) for easy installation

• Custom covers for all types of light, medium and heavy helicopters

Dynamic Solutions Systems MicroVib II Helicopter Track & Balance Kit


• Batty-powered, all-in-one kit for track and balance of main and tail rotors and drive shafts

• Fan and shaft balancing

• Vibration analysis of turbine and piston engines and gearboxes and bearings

• Accurate tachometer checks

• Cabin vibration surveys

FEC Heliports Snowmelt System


• Automatically remove show/ice build-up from concrete helipads

• Operates with either glycol mix or electric heat cable system

• Snow sensors monitor temperature and precipitation

• System automatically turns off when temperatures are above a preset level

• Can be retrofitted onto existing concrete helipads with the Helimat ground option

FEC Heliports Landing Dolly

• Largest landing area available on a dolly in the industry

• 9,500 lb (4,173 kg) capacity

• Low profile: only 16” high

• Frame is painted in high-visibility orange

• Solid soft flex wheels for smooth ride

• Custom sizes and colors are available

Lindbergh Aircraft Tug Company Aircraft Caddy


• Battery-powered, walk behind helicopter tug

• Easy to operate hand control system

• Built-in battery charger

• 2:1 gear reduction with chain-drive

• Smooth acceleration and breaking for safer aircraft movement

• Tow helicopters up to 8,000 lbs (3,629 kg)

Metallic Ladder Platform Ladder


• Available in heights from 3’ (92 cm) to 6’ (182 cm)

• Large, 20” x 40” (51 x 102 cm) platform

• Reinforced heavy-duty gusseting on all steps for maximum stability

• Heavy-duty, cast aluminum feet (slip resistant rubber feet are available)

• Heavy-duty, 5” wheels for easy mobility

Powervamp Portable GPU 1500/40


• 40 amp, 28.5 V DC continuous output

• Input voltage selectable: 110/230 volts

• Solid-state DC voltage display

• 10 amp accessory socket

• Rechargeable from an aircraft’s 28-volt DC bus

• Can be coupled to a second GPU 1500/40 to double amp/hour capacity

• Size: 12” height x 5” width x 16” depth

• Weight: 57 lbs (26 kg)

Tronair Fuel, Leak Test Unit


• Provides safe and efficient way to check and clean helicopter fuel lines

• 98% particle removal efficiency

• Filters particles as small as ½ micron

• Air operated to eliminate spark hazard

• 12 GPM maximum flow

• Two static discharge reels

• Welded steel cart with tool tray and wheels

Tronair Portable Engine Compressor Washer

• Compact and portable washer for cleaning and washing turbine engines

• Enables easy fresh water rinses in corrosive environments

• Used fore power recovery wash/rise

• Includes two, three-gallon pressure tanks with wash/rise output filtration

• Stainless steel tanks with large fill ports

• Pressure regulator with certified pressure gauge

Vanair, Inc. V1000 Series Heli-Carrier


• Fits most light to mid-size helicopters

• Ideal for uneven ramp areas with high (7”/18 cm) vertical clearance

• Unique U-shape frame easily accommodates undercarriage accessories

• Highly adjustable swing out arms make positioning fast and easy

• Very maneuverable and easy to operate

• Removable hand controller enables operator to see blades and tail rotor location

Tanis Aircraft Products Rotorcraft Engine Preheat System


• Preheats critical engine components including engine oil, sump, hydraulic reservoir, reduction gearbox, accessory case, fuel control unit, and tail rotor gearbox

• Help reduces cold-induced torque oscillation and thermal stress

• Available for piston and turbine engines

• Operates from any appropriate 115V or 230V AC power source

• System preheat capabilities vary depending on aircraft configuration

• Recommended temperatures for operation is 40º F (4º C) or lower


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