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Helicopter for Yacht Operations?


Kc135Delta
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I have landed on a few "yachts" in my previous career. I think the smallest one was 134', but it had the flight deck typical of the 453' SHIPS I landed on.

 

Commands03.jpg

 

The important things to consider are:

 

1)Dimensions..obviously you need to match the aircraft weight, length, width and height dimensions with the yacht you land on. Unfortunately optimal placement of the flight deck for obstacle clearance usually contradicts the optimal placement for sea keeping ability. You need to have an extra margin of error if you plan to land and take off while underway or pivoting at anchor.

 

2) You need a VERY GOOD landing gear and deck compatability. Helicopters, being top heavy, are susceptable to sliding off the deck and/or tipping over. You should have easily available tiedown positions on the deck and on the aircraft so that the aircraft can be tied down by ground crew before shutting down. The aircraft must not have adverse ground resonance issues while being tied down. The gear/skids and deck must be able to absorb the punishment of firm landings.

 

3) What are your operating limitations going to be? What ship pitch, roll and yaw limits will you land under? Be sure that they are WELL within the aircrafts dynamic roll over and static roll over limitations. What about weather and lighting limitations? Is night lighting required? If you plan to land while underway or at anchor at night you need to consider approach and lineup lights. You can't believe how lights can be confusing in pitch dark landings on aboard a ship.

 

EDIT: Krusty has the right attitude. SAFETY. We flew off the back of ships all of the time at night but still did not consider it safe to take pax at night. It had to be approved at the region commander's level. It was a forgone conclusion that if the aircraft went in the drink at night, the pax would NOT survive, but the aircrew, with recurrent helo dunker training, would have a better than 50% chance.

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Thanks for the valuable info. I'm totally reconsidering the whole idea. I talked to a post Ch-53 pilot a day ago and he was stationed on one of those pocket carriers with just helio's and jump jets. Needless to say I don't think I want to try it.

 

Not just yet anyways. Maybe after some more time building.

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Good to you KC135 for reconsidering. Just remember forums like this are a place for those with experience to transmill that knowledge. Personally I have done no Large ship ( 500 ft +)board landings but have landed on many logging barges from a utility standpoint, which is kinda the same. You need a twin on pop outs with mustang jackets for all. ( pull to inlfate ) not the ones that go off with water contact cause folks can get trapped in the cabin. Like I said if you need advice PM me and I will do I waht I can to steer you right.

 

Kindest Regards

 

Krusty

 

 

 

Rob. L is also an great source of info.

 

Fly Safe KC 135

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Hello, again.

 

I'm in a search for the best light helicopter suited for yacht operations, I need a helicopter to operate off a 130-140' expedition yacht which is still in the design phase. I want to know what pilots prefer helicopter wise and landing pad config.

 

helicopter wise, we are looking at light turbine (preferably twin turbine). We were considering the Long jetbox (206 long ranger) becuase it only has a 2 bladed rotor head which allows for much easier storage becuase the helicopter will be kept in a hangar. So folding rotorheads or twin bladed is a must. We were also considering the AS355 becuase of it's twin engine qualities. But we prefer the seating arangment of the long ranger due to the fact that it makes deboarding and loading much easier for shuttling large amount of pax to/from the yacht.

 

any input is appriciated from helipad/hangar design to helicopter choice.

 

the single engine 206L over water is a scary thought in my mind, even knowing the reliability of turbines.

thanks, drew

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Hello, again.

 

I'm in a search for the best light helicopter suited for yacht operations, I need a helicopter to operate off a 130-140' expedition yacht which is still in the design phase. I want to know what pilots prefer helicopter wise and landing pad config.

 

helicopter wise, we are looking at light turbine (preferably twin turbine). We were considering the Long jetbox (206 long ranger) becuase it only has a 2 bladed rotor head which allows for much easier storage becuase the helicopter will be kept in a hangar. So folding rotorheads or twin bladed is a must. We were also considering the AS355 becuase of it's twin engine qualities. But we prefer the seating arangment of the long ranger due to the fact that it makes deboarding and loading much easier for shuttling large amount of pax to/from the yacht.

 

any input is appriciated from helipad/hangar design to helicopter choice.

 

the single engine 206L over water is a scary thought in my mind, even knowing the reliability of turbines.

thanks, drew

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I'm not a helicopter pilot (as yet) but I am a naval architect for a megayacht builder in the UK.

The last yacht we sent out into the world has a Bell 407 onboard, but she is 253' long and cost well over $100million!

 

Looking at it from the designers point of view, helicopters on anything less than 160' are very tough and even that will be for daylight use and as a touch and go pad, not for a permanently embarked helicopter. We have a 180' yacht in the yard at the moment with a pad for an EC120, and even that is a really tight squeeze! So much so that a part of the superstructure has to move on tracks to accomodate a landing.

The major reasons that its a pain in the a$$ being that the extra hoops that the designer has to jump through to incorporate infrastructure to comply with the MCA, Lloyds Register and the Flag Authority to store aviation fuel and provide sufficient fire fighting capability is quite a major undertaking.

 

Most of these issues are not at the forefront of the mind of the designer when the initial sketches are done. And helipads are shown as space 'set aside' with no real facilities or thought (often the uppermost sundeck with an H inlaid in the teak decking!). Owners (or their reps) are then often surprised when we as the detail and structural design folk say that things that are on the initial 'pretty picture' that the owner got from the stylist require a lot of redesign or just aren't going to work (This applies to a LOT of areas on a yacht not just helipads!)

 

One should not underestimate the effect that the additional weight of the helicopter and the generated loads will have on the required structure in the deck beneath, or the effect that that weight has on the stability of the vessel.

Adding weight at height will have the effect of raising the CG, albeit just a little, and most yachts I have worked with are built close to the limits as it is.

 

On our current project the yacht is some 270', but still the pad is only 26' wide (another touch and go). On the smallest yachts, there is barely enough room for the skids and fuselage and the tail boom sticks way out over thin air. It would be really hard to check over the tail rotor preflight!

 

Having said all that, (and I do seem to have gone on for a long time, sorry about that) some of the yachts with helipads are pretty impressive.

One of Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen's yachts, the expedition yacht 'Octopus', has a helipad and hangar space for S76s.

Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich's yacht Pelorus has 3 helipads (upper aft, upper forward and foredeck). I think one of his yachts(!) even has a concealed hangar in the foredeck to hold a small heli with folded rotors.

 

But you can do that when you spend $200million on one of your yachts...

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Looking at it from the designers point of view, helicopters on anything less than 160' are very tough and even that will be for daylight use and as a touch and go pad, not for a permanently embarked helicopter. We have a 180' yacht in the yard at the moment with a pad for an EC120, and even that is a really tight squeeze! So much so that a part of the superstructure has to move on tracks to accomodate a landing.

The major reasons that its a pain in the a$$ being that the extra hoops that the designer has to jump through to incorporate infrastructure to comply with the MCA, Lloyds Register and the Flag Authority to store aviation fuel and provide sufficient fire fighting capability is quite a major undertaking.

Interesting and totally in agreement with my experience doing pre-deployment inspections of US Navy vessels for flight deck, hangar and training requirements. I did not get into the design of the systems, but did inspect them for compliance to US Navy regulations, which were VERY extensive, right down to the number of people who had to be qualified as rescue swimmers, date the deck was last painted, measurement of deck markings, etc...

 

It was tough telling a ship's captain he could not deploy with a helo if he did not TDY someone from another ship to his until he could get someone to swimmer school. I got many calls around my back to the admiral I worked for, but the regs always won out. It was VERY involved in the military and it makes sense that there should be some diligence on the civilian side.

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For what it's worth, I have a 3.5mb power point presentation of Paul Allen's Octopus. It's mostly just slides of different pictures and what not, but it does contain some great shots of the heli pads and hanger. Do we have a files section here? I know we have the gallery and video section. I'll gladly post it if we have a location for it.

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  • 2 months later...

I might suggest the MD-902 (Notar) Light twin helicopter with the Folding Blade Option

 

Hello, again.

 

I'm in a search for the best light helicopter suited for yacht operations, I need a helicopter to operate off a 130-140' expedition yacht which is still in the design phase. I want to know what pilots prefer helicopter wise and landing pad config.

 

helicopter wise, we are looking at light turbine (preferably twin turbine). We were considering the Long jetbox (206 long ranger) becuase it only has a 2 bladed rotor head which allows for much easier storage becuase the helicopter will be kept in a hangar. So folding rotorheads or twin bladed is a must. We were also considering the AS355 becuase of it's twin engine qualities. But we prefer the seating arangment of the long ranger due to the fact that it makes deboarding and loading much easier for shuttling large amount of pax to/from the yacht.

 

any input is appriciated from helipad/hangar design to helicopter choice.

 

the single engine 206L over water is a scary thought in my mind, even knowing the reliability of turbines.

thanks, drew

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I was thinking this but I've got up and around in an As355 and I just don't like it much. Must be an aquired taste.

Wheels are the way to go for landing on a ship. If you didn't have to fold the blades the AGUSTA 109 POWER is the way to go. Similar dimensions to AS355. The Power does extremely well in the offshore environment provided you keep the salt off it. Been flying it for a year and a half offshore landing on vessels at sea, great aircraft. good luck.

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  • 3 weeks later...
this topic has been on since october. have you had any lucky yet kcdelta? i'm interested to hear what you have chosen.

 

Yea, dropped the idea of the helicopter landing on the yacht, I am looking into a dedicated helicopter ship (and other water toys) to shadow the main yacht. It will cost more $$$ but the whoa factor should more than foot the bill :D . Also the fact that one of my long awaited standing investments (finnally) paid out to the tune of 87 million this December. Allthough I think I should buy a new house first as I am still living in my inherited 2400 sqft. home. I have been under the gun work wise these past uhmmmm.... 3 years and haven't had time to buy a new one. Still single though so it's not a problem. Not to mention the fact that I only get to spend about 20 days annually at home... so it sits cold most of the year while I continue to become more familiar with the local marriott or hilton depending on where I am that night. So I guess my small split level house in my deteriorating neighborhood suits me just fine... no reason to be wasteful...

 

Anyways enough of my rambling

 

Is anyone familiar with someone who does this kind of operation regularly? I was hoping to touch base with them....

 

Thanks.

 

I have probably the best idea of what it takes possible without acctually doing it. So if you post your questions I can probably answer the questions about integration while others can answer the helicopter and yacht specific questions.

 

By the way this is probably the most informative helicopter site on the net. Just becuase it isn't too small (not enough people to cover all areas of the subject) or too large where you gets lost in the Library of posting's,

 

Thanks for your time,

 

Drew

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  • 11 years later...
  • 3 months later...

Just wonder... Are there any specifications for a yacht helicopter in terms of harsh environment (mostly I think about salt) or it doesn't make such a difference? Salty water and air is highly corrosive even when your boat still floats :D

Almost all helicopters are made from different alloys of aluminum B) , so they are not afraid of corrosion. Since the helicopter moves through the air, rather than water, it can be said that all helicopters are protected. Although if you have such a boat , it is better to buy a water helicopter :D

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Was I seriously considering a helicopter for yacht operations, I wouldn't be asking here. I suggest you contact somebody with experience preparing and maintaining a helo in a marine environment, like a Gulf of Mexico operator, somebody from their completions or maintenance department. My recollection is that they strip, repaint and corrosion proof their aircraft on a regular basis, like every few years?

 

If restricted hangarage is an issue, the Bell 206 series is your best bet. NO blade folding maintenance issues, and safe as houses. Not to mention a record of suitability in the GoM. If you're going to operate with lots of passengers, freight, the L4 would be my recommendation.

 

I ended up hating the 355, feared it the last few years. If it could break on one of them, it did. A 350B3, even a B2 will carry more, farther, faster.

 

No experience in the newer light twins, the EC 135 (or whatever the company is this week). My impression from a 48 year career evenly split between light twins and singles is that the second engine is only a safety advantage if you train your pilots very well and operate it to maximize the redundancy of power sources. Otherwise the other systems are a disadvantage to the pilot, not to mention nearly doubling the maintenance per flight hour of the comparable single engine's cost. If you don't need and aren't willing to pay for 'Marine One' safety, you're better off with a good single and great staffing.

Edited by Wally
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