A construction helicopter, or aerial crane, is a helicopter used in construction projects to transport cargo and lift heavy loads more quickly and efficiently. These versatile heavy-lift helicopters are an excellent choice for a number of tasks.
They can lift and transport hefty building materials such as steel, concrete, wood, and brick. They can place rooftop units such as HVAC systems and chillers with exacting precision. They can set radio transmission towers and power transmission lines or bring replenishment supplies to your remote location.
When a traditional ground crane can’t complete a job due to cost, inability to access a remote location, or difficulty performing in inclement weather or rough terrain, an aerial crane is the solution.
In fact, aerial cranes have very few limitations compared to ground cranes, making them your best option for nearly every type of construction project.
Here are eight ways a construction helicopter can save you both time and money throughout each stage of your project, from the initial planning and assessment to the ongoing development.
1. More effective preliminary assessments
You know how important it is to survey your site and tackle the initial assessment before getting to work. A utility helicopter can increase the effectiveness and range of your surveying efforts by enabling you to inspect the current conditions of any infrastructure, as well as perform aerial surveys, hazard assessments, and volumetric calculations of your site.
You can also use helicopters to take photographs and create time-lapse videos of your structure as it’s being built. Not only will these up-to-date images allow you to better coordinate logistics and monitor your site development (which can prevent you from wasting time and money), but you can use them to update stakeholders and investors about your progress.
Finally, you can use helicopters to aid in thermal imaging efforts so you can check for the incongruity of pipelines and other underground structures.
2. Increased accessibility
Utility helicopters can access nearly any area. You can use them to reach high-traffic zones with few access points or place heavy loads and equipment in remote or largely inaccessible areas, such as high rooftops, mountains, or hills.
That means less preliminary work—think timber felling or the construction of approach roads—which may allow you to reduce or entirely exclude certain auxiliary jobs from your construction process.
Say you’re working in a densely-forested area where the main road is far from your work site. If you choose to operate a traditional ground crane, you may have to spend time and resources constructing an access road to make way for the crane and the delivery of building materials by motor vehicle—at a great expense to you.
A construction helicopter eliminates the need for an approach road such as this one, which can save you resources and money.
And if you’re working in a high-traffic area, helicopter travel enables you to avoid ground inconveniences that have the potential to delay your project, such as road work and traffic congestion.
3. Easier and more cost-effective setup and teardown
Setup and teardown of traditional ground cranes can be cumbersome and costly. Ground cranes are slow to position and you must reposition them as you progress in your work. If you’re setting up a ground crane along a highway or busy road, you have to account for the time, effort, and money it takes to set up traffic control, as well.
Aerial cranes, on the other hand, require virtually no set up, saving you both time and money. They also allow you to avoid unnecessary traffic jams, travel delays, and potential automobile accidents.
4. Increased mobility and precision
Because standard cranes have limited mobility, they are far more difficult to maneuver when performing common installations on existing buildings, such as rooftop HVAC units, chillers, and ventilation. This means there is an increased risk of accidents as well as the potential for costly mistakes.
Construction and utility helicopters are more agile than ground cranes and have the advantage of being able to spin 360 degrees and hover over other buildings and structures. Their large side windows and aerial views allow pilots to place heavy loads and equipment more accurately and with a higher level of precision, whether installing or removing HVAC systems, performing pipeline or power line construction, or placing cell towers or steel beams.
This precision increases the safety of your external load operations and helps mitigate the risk of harm to other nearby properties and to your construction crew. This can save you from costly expenses resulting from lawsuits and repairs, as well as the headache of a project delay.
Construction helicopters also need very little space to maneuver, which means they can weave easily in and out of nearby buildings and skyscrapers. Plus, they can fly at low elevations and assist you in spotting issues or leaks in an installation that would be far more costly to fix later down the line.
5. Ability to perform in even the most tempestuous environments
Traditional ground cranes are most efficient on flat, hard ground and in fair weather conditions. If you rent a ground crane for use in a rough or tempestuous environment, you may find yourself facing safety issues and project delays head on—both of which can result in the need for an additional investment of time, money, and resources.
Aerial cranes, on the other hand, were developed to brave the elements. These heavy-lift helicopters are stable even in turbulent crosswinds and other threatening climates.
They are equipped to perform just as consistently in potential hazards such as:
- High altitude
- High temperature
- Elevated atmospheric pressure
- Rocky or mountainous terrain
- Forests or swamps
- Soft ground
Plus, they are often permitted to access environmentally protected areas that may not allow for the entry of ground cranes.
No matter the environment, you can rest assured your hired pilot and helicopter are more than equipped to handle it.
6. Less expensive to operate
Depending on the scope of your project, an aerial crane may be a far more cost-effective option than a traditional ground crane. The lift fee for a construction helicopter is frequently less expensive than the fee for a ground crane because helicopters can perform certain tasks more quickly and require less time planning.
In many cases, your helicopter construction company will do much of the work for you.
When you first meet with your potential helicopter service company and discuss your project challenges and goals, they’ll be able to help you choose the most efficient helicopter for your needs.
The Bell 407HP, for example, is designed to be cost-effective and occupy less cubic space and burn less fuel than others. This is one of the many aerial cranes available via Helicopter Express. This chopper boasts speed and reliability in all weather conditions, and its fuel efficiency makes it a top performer in its class.
7. Heavy lift capabilities
Aerial cranes enable you to stick to your work schedule and complete your project on or under budget. Besides requiring virtually no setup, they are faster at moving rig components and lifting heavy equipment than ground cranes.
When you work with a traditional ground crane, you may need to transport your building materials by truck. Trucks can only handle small loads and require more frequent changeover, which greatly increases the amount of time you must spend hauling cargo back and forth.
Many construction helicopters, however, can lift between 2,000 and 6,000 pounds. Just imagine how many more materials you’ll be able to transport at one time (and how quickly!). Hooking up cargo transport to a helicopter doesn’t take much time, either.
Does your project involve the transportation of pipeline pieces? Traditional means of transporting pipeline can be time-consuming and expensive, but aerial cranes can haul large amounts of heavy pipeline in less than half the time.
See an example of how one of our clients set 41 utility towers in 5 hours with our aerial crane service—a job that would take nearly 3 weeks using a ground crane!
8. Dedicated crew to ensure timeliness, efficiency, and safety
Finally, when you work with a helicopter lifting company like Helicopter Express, you can rest easy knowing you have an entire crew by your side who are devoted to the safety and timeliness of your project.
Helicopter pilots are highly skilled at flying in a diverse range of environments. They know how to perform heavy-lift tasks and place cargo with extreme precision so each step of your project is completed correctly and on time.
Pilots also frequently lead logistical support teams whose key goal is to make sure your project falls within your timeline and your budget.
Project manager and on-site logistics coordinators
A heavy-lift helicopter company like Helicopter Express will also likely assign you a project manager and on-site logistics coordinators whose job duties include:
- Helping you outline your project goals and challenges
- Coordinating rig setup and teardown and cargo transport
- Managing external load transportation to ensure loads are packaged and transported as quickly as possible