Top 4 Construction Helicopters for Your Next Project
So you’ve decided to hire a helicopter lifting company to assist you with your next construction project. You’ve probably read about all the ways aerial cranes can save you time and money over traditional ground cranes. You’ve likely researched the capabilities of these aircraft, from transporting hefty construction materials to pouring foundations and setting heavy power lines.
But which construction helicopter should you choose?
When you sit down with an aerial crane company to discuss your project, your dedicated project manager will help you choose the helicopter best suited to your needs. In the meantime, we’ll provide you with a high-level overview of the top 4 construction helicopters to consider for your construction job, whether it involves heavy lifting, cargo transport, or the precise placement of sizeable structures.
Each of the 4 helicopter cranes listed below are top performers for construction-related tasks such as:
Utility construction and patrol
Ski lift construction
Placement of rooftop HVAC systems and chillers
Rigging, roofing, and ducting
Other types of heavy lifting and cargo transport
1. Kaman K-Max K-1200
Maximum Weight Capacity: 12,000 pounds Maximum External Load: 6,000 pounds Maximum Speed: 100 knots (115 mph) Maximum Range: 345 miles
If you’re looking for a heavy-lift helicopter with a proven track record for your next construction project, look no further than the Kaman K-Max K-1200. According to Kaman.com, this fleet has accumulated over 340,000 flight hours in the past 25 years.
This single-engine, single-seat crane helicopter was designed for your heaviest and most repetitive construction lifting jobs, from ski lift and power line construction to logging. In fact, this aerial crane began its commercial life as a logging helicopter in 1994.
Because it can lift up to 6,000 pounds in one external load, it is ideal for demanding missions that require you to pour concrete foundations or place large towers or rooftop systems.
With average fuel consumption of just 82 gallons per hour during heavy-lift operations, the Kaman K-Max K-1200 boasts the most efficient lift-to-fuel ratio of any aircraft available. It can even lift more than its weight!
The K-Max operates without a traditional tail rotor configuration. Instead, its engine power is harnessed by its main rotors. This intermeshing rotor system means two key advantages for this chopper:
It requires less maintenance than helicopters with a tail rotor
It performs better in high altitudes and high temperatures
The Kaman K-Max K-1200 was also designed with a limited number of systems requiring your hired pilot to take action. This measure increases the safety of your operations by ensuring your pilot can keep their hands and feet on the controls during flight procedures.
Additional features of the K-Max include:
Trolley system that enables the cargo hook to shift back and forth—this enhances the stability of your load
Strategically-placed external instrument panel—this allows your pilot to monitor their performance throughout loading and lifting operations
2. Bell 205A-1++
Maximum Weight Capacity: 10,000 pounds Maximum External Load: 4,000 pounds Maximum Speed: 120 knots (138 mph) Maximum Range: 345 miles
Does your construction project require a helicopter capable of performing external lifting missions at high altitudes, in high temperatures, or in turbulent mountain environments? Then consider the Bell 205A-1++.
This 9-passenger aircraft is one of the most versatile helicopters available for your heavy-lift construction job. In fact, the U.S. Forest Service frequently chooses this chopper for its impressive safety record and proven reliability.
The Bell 205A-1++ is a medium, turbine-powered aircraft featuring two blades and a single engine. It was designed for low maintenance and is certified for land operation under both day and night conditions. It is even capable of operating from unprepared takeoff and landing areas.
This helicopter requires just one pilot for nonflammable/nonhazardous cargo. If your internal cargo includes flammable or hazardous materials, your minimum flight crew must consist of one pilot and one crew member.
Maximum Weight Capacity: 5,225 pounds Maximum External Load: 3,200 pounds Maximum Speed: 139 knots (160 mph) Maximum Range: 345 miles
The Airbus AS-350 B3 is a light, single-engine helicopter known for its diverse range, excellent visibility, and built-in maneuverability. It features a wide cabin that receives low levels of vibration, as well as a passenger capacity of up to 5 people. This helicopter is ideal for construction projects requiring heavy lifting, cargo transport, aerial surveys, or utility patrol.
The Airbus AS-350 B3 is a member of the Ecureuil family of Airbus copters. Together, the aircraft making up this family have accumulated over 33 million flight hours.
Additionally, this Airbus aircraft is the holder of two fascinating world records:
It boasts the world record for the highest-altitude takeoff and landing. The pilot performed this feat on Mount Everest in 2005 at an altitude of 29,029 feet.
It performed the world’s highest long-line rescue operation in the Himalayas in 2013. The rescue occurred on Lhotse—the fourth-highest mountain in the world—at an altitude of 25,590 feet.
The Airbus AS-350 B3’s high versatility and ability to perform in extreme conditions make it a popular choice for government and military operations as well as high-altitude rescue missions. If you’re planning a construction project where you’ll be working at high elevations or in scorching heat, you’ll definitely want to consider this powerful chopper.
4. Bell 407HP
Maximum Weight Capacity: 5,250 pounds Maximum External Load: 2,500 pounds Maximum Speed: 140 knots (161 mph) Maximum Range: 342 miles
The Bell 407HP is a single-engine, multipurpose utility helicopter from Bell Helicopter. A modern version of the Bell 206L-4 LongRanger, the Bell 407 features a four-blade rotor design that enhances its power and speed.
This aircraft is commonly used for missions in high temperatures or at high altitudes in fields such as firefighting, law enforcement, and emergency medical services. Its versatility and fuel efficiency make it a great choice for utility construction projects involving heavy lifting, aerial surveys, and utility patrol.
The conversion of the Bell 407 to 407HP meant a faster, more powerful, and more fuel-efficient helicopter that generates more than 1,000 shaft horsepower. That’s because the 407HP utilizes a Honeywell HTS900 propulsion engine in place of the 407’s standard engine.
New technologies in the HP include:
Cooled single-crystal turbine blades
Effusion cooled combustor liner
Dual-channel Full Authority Digital Engine Control
What does all that mean for your construction project? If you choose a Bell 407HP, you’ll be getting the lowest fuel consumption and the highest power-to-weight ratio of any helicopter in its class.
Here’s a quick breakdown of a few additional advantages of choosing the Bell 407HP for your construction job:
Increased lifting capacity—you’re able to lift and move heavier parts, which reduces the amount of disassembly required for your project
Increased fuel capacity—you’ll spend less time refueling, which in turn saves you money
Increased load capacity when landing—your missions will require fewer trips
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