Heavylift / Breakbulk
Italian helicopters fly to California
Russia’s Volga-Dnepr Airlines recently deployed an Antonov freighter, together with its partner company, Ruslan International, to simultaneously transport four helicopters. This cargo shipment was not an isolated incident, but nevertheless required special treatment.
Four rotorcraft recently crossed the North Atlantic, to be exhibited at Heli-Expo, the world’s largest helicopter trade show, which was held in Anaheim CA this year, in the metropolitan area of the southern Californian city of Los Angeles (USA).
Of course, they did not have sufficient power to undertake the intercontinental flight under their own steam. They were therefore transported in the hold of an Antonov An-124-100 freighter, belonging to Russia’s Volga-Dnepr Airlines. The helicopters, belonging to the Italian manufacturer, AgustaWestland, were loaded at Milan Malpensa airport.
The heavylift cargo specialist Volga-Dnepr was also in charge of organising the more than 30 mile road transport leg between Los Angeles airport and the exhibition centre, as part of its freight supermarket services.
Four of more than 700 flights
«When transporting helicopters we use special procedures, because large helicopters require a special loading plan,» explained Alexey Stepanov, Volga-Dnepr’s loading supervisor.
He went on to say that «these usually include packaging the previously dismantled rotor blades, so that they can be loaded onto the flight together with the helicopter and other equipment and spare parts.»
An-124-100, the helicopter workhorse
Horizontal stabilisation blocks or tanks, which have to be strapped-down, also need to be dismantled sometimes. Frequently a special ramp extension or towing bar are also used for the loading and unloading.
Over the last ten years, Volga-Dnepr has transported helicopters on no less than 739 flights. On 634 of these an An-124-100 was deployed, with IL-76TD-90VDs being used 105 times.