14 Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Heavy-Lift Helicopter Service
Your time is valuable. The last thing you want is to be knee-deep in a new construction project before it becomes clear that the helicopter construction company you hired is not a good fit.
At this point, you either finish out your project–and tough out the headache that comes with it–or you start over with a new heavy-lift team, wasting precious time and money.
So, how can you be sure to bypass a potential disaster like this one? How can you determine which aerial crane services are the best fit if you’ve only ever utilized a traditional ground crane?
The more solid information you have about a potential operation, the easier it’ll be for you to choose the right one. Be sure to ask these 14 questions to successfully vet any potential heavy-lift helicopter company.
1. How can a construction helicopter save us time and money on our heaviest lifting jobs?
Before you decide to allocate a portion of your budget to helicopter lifting services, you need to understand whether an aerial crane is the best choice to save you time and money.
When you sit down with a potential helicopter lifting company, your point of contact will go over your project with you in detail. He or she can explain exactly where you’ll reap the benefits of aerial lifting, from the initial planning stages to your finished site.
In the meantime, here are a few advantages of helicopter-aided construction to consider. You can ask about these benefits in relation to your own project during your initial consult:
The ability to perform aerial surveys, hazard assessments, and volumetric calculations of your site before you begin construction
The ability to access high-traffic zones and largely inaccessible areas without the need for timber felling, approach roads, or traffic controls
Reduced number of accidents and costly mistakes due to increased mobility and precision
Higher performance capabilities (even in high altitude and high-pressure areas or rocky terrain)
Less expensive due to the ability to complete jobs more quickly
3. What happens if the weather is too dangerous for the helicopter to fly?
Aerial cranes are designed to remain stable in a wide variety of environments, regardless of variables like turbulent crosswinds or elevated atmospheric pressure.
However, some types of inclement weather produce riskier conditions for your pilot and ground crew, and you don’t want to place your team in the face of unnecessary danger.
Be sure to ask what limitations these aircraft have and determine whether your project manager will establish a plan to handle mandatory delays.
4. Are there certain parties who must be notified before we begin lifting?
You’ll want to notify all work parties of the time and place you plan to conduct your aerial lifts, but you may also be required to notify public safety officials, local air traffic control, or other local authorities before you begin heavy lifting.
Inquire about the rules and regulations for aerial cranes in your jurisdiction and understand who is responsible for notifying the proper authorities.
5. Can you tell me a little bit about your company history?
You want to hire an organization that knows their business inside and out. You’re paying for their expertise and their experience, and long-term tenure often means they’ve had time to work out the kinks and develop a process that runs smoothly from start to finish.
You may want to ask how long they’ve been in business, how their business is structured, how many employees they currently have, and how many clients they’ve served or successful projects they’ve completed.
Ask follow-up questions until you get a good feel for their business philosophy and trust they’ll be honest and reliable.
6. How much experience do your pilots have?
Pilots are vital members of your aviation team. They’re the crew members who will be placing your cargo and equipment with absolute precision to ensure your job is completed safely and correctly the very first time.
They must be highly skilled at flying in a diverse range of environments and have complete confidence in their abilities. They’re often expected to lead logistical support teams, so they must be proficient budgeters who excel at organization.
Your prospective pilot’s past experience and tenure can tell you a lot about what to expect in terms of skills, reliability, and efficiency.
7. Do you have testimonials from past clients?
References and testimonials can highlight the positive traits of the company you’re about to hire. They can help you understand how the organization operates, how efficiently it accomplishes tasks, and how well its project managers communicate with clients.
8. Who will be our point of contact?
Communication is vital for ensuring your project is completed correctly while meeting your budget and deadline.
The helicopter construction company you hire should assign you a dedicated project manager who will:
Help you outline your challenges and goals
Organize planning meetings, essential training, and pre-job briefing
Work with on-site logistics coordinators to maintain ground and external load operations
Be sure to discuss your preferred method of communication and agree upon the level of communication you expect during initial preparations and throughout the course of your project.
9. How many people will be assigned to our project?
There’s a lot that goes into preparing for a heavy-lift operation, from selecting the correct helicopter type and capacity to drafting a flight plan and packaging cargo.
Your heavy-lift service company should determine your crew size, plan for the rotation of crew members, and assign individual responsibilities.
In your initial consultation, they may provide you with an estimate. But prior to your project start date, make sure you know exactly who you’ll be working with and each team member’s explicit role.
10. What helicopter would you recommend for our project?
Most construction helicopter companies have their own fleet featuring a number of different utility and heavy-lift choppers. The organization you choose will select the best type of aircraft for your heavy lifting project based on your working environment, cargo type, and load size.
11. How much will our project cost?
Any prospective agency should be upfront about the costs of doing business. However, there will likely be variables at play that could result in additional expenses down the line.
After you discuss your project details, make sure you receive a clear estimate. If the price is fluid, ensure you understand the various factors that could influence the price as you delve further into your project.
Also make sure you understand your specific payment terms and expected payment schedule.
12. What steps will you take to ensure the safety of our team?
Your aerial crane company’s number one goal should be to ensure the safety of all flight and ground crew members throughout each step of your project.
From vital risk assessments to limiting access of non-essential personnel, they’ll do everything they can to provide a safe and secure working environment for your operation.
Still, you are responsible for the safety of your own team, so it’s important that you ask the right questions. You may wish to pose questions such as:
Can you tell us about your safety record?
Do you provide pre-job safety briefing?
Will you establish an emergency preparedness plan?
13. What does a typical day look like?
In order to plan your work days, you’ll need to know what time the crew typically arrives at a site, how long safety inspections last, how long it takes to rig, lift, and move cargo, and how many hours the pilot and crew are able to safely work each day.
14. How soon can we get started?
You want to hire a heavy-lift team that’s available to start as soon as you’re ready. However, there’s a lot of pre-planning required to enable flawless rigging, lifting, load transport, and cargo placement.
Ask whether your timeline is realistic and ensure their availability is conducive to your project deadlines.
Take the next step. Reach out to Helicopter Express today.