broken clouds
1°C
March 31, 2010 | General

Media
Release
 

World’s largest aircraft on journey from Edmonton to
Afghanistan

Canadian Helicopters transports cargo in support of
coalition mission
 

March 31, 2010 (Edmonton, Alta.)-Today at Edmonton International
Airport (EIA), Canadian Helicopters is loading three helicopters
and support equipment aboard the Antonov An-225, the world’s
largest aircraft. In total, 50 tonnes of cargo is being transported
in support of the coalition mission in Afghanistan, where the
helicopters will be used to transport personnel and
equipment. 

The big payload requires a big aircraft, and the Antonov An-225
is truly one of a kind. There is currently only one An-225 in
operation. The unique size of its cargo deck has put the An-225 in
demand globally for its heavy-lift capacity and ability to fly
oversized payloads. Edmonton-based Canadian Helicopters is
transporting a Sikorsky S-61N helicopter, two Bell 212 helicopters
and 40 tonnes of support equipment to Afghanistan aboard the
An-225. In early April, the load will be joined by another S-61N,
which is being repositioned from Australia. Canadian Helicopters
has been contracted by the US military to provide the
cargo. 

“The basic idea is to keep people and equipment off Afghani
roads and in the air where they’ll be safer,” says Don Wall,
Canadian Helicopters President and CEO. The two Bell 212’s being
transported from Edmonton will provide backup support for the
S-61N’s and the three Bell 212’s which are currently in theatre.
“With the addition of the heavy category Sikorskys and the two Bell
212 helicopters to our operations in Afghanistan, our capacity will
be moving up to 500 people and 14 tonnes of freight per
day.” 

Canadian Helicopters is the largest helicopter transportation
services company operating onshore in Canada, and one of the
largest in the world. Edmonton is Canadian Helicopters’ largest
base and home to company executive offices and major maintenance
facility. With 120 aircraft operating from 35 base locations across
Canada, Canadian Helicopters provides helicopter services to a
broad range of sectors, including emergency medical services,
infrastructure maintenance, utilities, oil and gas, mining,
forestry and construction. 

Presently in the first of four option years in Afghanistan with
an end date of November 30, 2013, Canadian Helicopters also has a
longstanding working relationship with the US and Canadian
militaries. Canadian Helicopters provides maintenance,
airworthiness support and training to the Canadian Forces
helicopter training fleet in Manitoba. At its school in Penticton,
BC, Canadian Helicopters provides specialized advanced operational
and mountain flying training to Canadian and other militaries
around the world, including many of the coalition countries in
Afghanistan. Flying and landing a helicopter in the mountains
requires a specialized technique and Canadian Helicopters’
expertise gives the company a big advantage when navigating
Afghanistan’s rough terrain. 

“The scale of the work in Afghanistan demands a safety record
and level of infrastructure that few helicopter transportation
service companies can provide,” Wall says. “We’ve developed a
strong reputation because we’re able to mobilize quickly while
maintaining our role as an industry leader in establishing
standards for safety and operating procedures.” 

The company employs 600 people across Canada, with about 80
employees in Edmonton and another 50 in Afghanistan. In 2009,
Canadian Helicopters’ (CHL.UN) net earnings were $26.8 million and
its annual revenue was approximately $150 million. The total value
of its operated fleet is $123 million. As of 2009, operations in
Afghanistan comprised roughly 20 per cent of the company’s annual
revenue. 

Welcoming a big aircraft like the An-225 requires a big airport,
and EIA provides a unique role for air cargo in Canada. EIA is
Canada’s largest major airport by area and its combination of
24-hour unrestricted access, infrastructure and strategic location
have made it an airport of choice with respect to heavy cargo
traffic. Currently underway, EIA’s Expansion 2012 airport
development program will further grow Edmonton’s role in global
trade and commerce. 

“The An-225 is a unique aircraft with operational requirements
that create challenges for many other airports to handle
effectively. EIA has extensive experience with heavy-lift aircraft,
such as the Antonov fleet, and we are continuing to develop our
expertise,” says Glen Vanstone, EIA’s Director of Cargo &
Corporate Innovation. “As part of Expansion 2012, we’ve expanded
our apron size by an equivalent of 50 football fields. In
combination with our facilities and positive geographic location,
we have an outstanding capacity to develop Port Alberta and
Edmonton as a transportation centre of excellence.” 

-30-

 

Media Contact: 

Traci Bednard

Communications

t: 780 890 8055

c: 780 909 9554

e: tbednard@flyeia.com        

w: www.flyeia.com

 

Don Wall

Canadian Helicopters

t: 780 429 6919

c: 780 499 7174

e: dwall@canadianhelicopters.com

w: www.canadianhelicopters.com