Hoisting is the supreme discipline in offshore transport. Here, without detours and without the influence of waves, tides or lengthy boat trips, personnel are lowered directly onto the hoist basket of a wind turbine by means of a winch. The HeliService crew that makes this possible consists of two highly trained and experienced pilots and a specialized hoist operator. The helicopter approaches the wind turbine to be serviced by the most direct route and drops the technicians on the wind turbine in a matter of minutes. Defective wind turbines thus back producing sustainable electricity again as quickly as possible, and the productive working time of the cost-intensive technicians is used in the best possible way. HeliService performs over 10,000 lifting operations annually, making it the world leader.
With the Leonardo AW139, HeliService has one of the largest fleets of this high-performance wide body helicopter. It’s 12 passenger seat configurations make it possible to transport many service personnel to wind farms extremely efficiently, taking minutes, instead of hours as by boat and thus to change entire crews of service platforms. Whether it’s an oil platform or an offshore wind farm, the more passengers, the greater the efficiency and the time-saving factor.
Even the smallest defective part can bring a wind turbine to a standstill and thus disrupt production of millions of kilowatt hours of sustainable electricity. The helicopter also sets the standards in the transport of spare parts, equipment, and tooling. Equipment weighing up to one ton can be transported, highly efficiently, directly to the desired location either by winch or as palletized goods.
While the journey by vessel – depending on the distance of the offshore wind farm – can take several hours, the transport of personnel and material by helicopter takes only minutes. With a cruising speed of around 250 km/h, the helicopter is often already at its destination when the vessel has only just left the port facility.
Due to this speed advantage, the productive working time of a technician transferred by HeliService helicopter is about 610 minutes. For a technician by vessel, it is only about 210 minutes. The remaining time is spent unproductively by riding the vessel.
Vessel transportation involves risks. The 4 boarding and disembarking manoeuvres in the freedom-of-movement-restricting survival suits alone represent a high potential for danger. Anyone who has ever stepped from a swaying ship onto a wind turbine on the open sea knows the risk. The forces of waves and wind are too immense, arbitrarily lowering and raising even full-size vessels.
According to the G+ 2021 study, 47% of all serious accidents in offshore operations occur on vessels. Helicopters are safer by a factor of 10.
Concerns about crashes are more than unfounded thanks to the high legal requirements, HeliService’s own extreme standards and mature technology.
A wind turbine with a defect does not wait for optimal conditions for the use of a vessel. On the contrary. To reliably produce sustainable electricity, it is a must that technicians can repair wind turbines at any time. But while the boat can be used on only 65% of the days of the year due to high waves or bad weather,
the helicopter can fly on up to 95% of the days of the year. And of course, the large HeliService helicopter fleet and short flight times also contribute to the fact that HeliService helicopters are always available.
Anyone who produces sustainable electricity should also attach importance to the sustainability of all the services required for this. It would be paradoxical to save CO2 through wind energy and emit it unnecessarily elsewhere. The emission of CO2 is 7 times lower per
passenger in a helicopter. Not only because of the different fuels, but also because of the much shorter flight time, shorter distances and less drag.
Head of Dispatch