How Helicopters Can Be Used in Critical Situations

As we know, helicopters can provide numerous services from search and rescue to aerial firefighting to external load operations. I came upon an article recently called “Could helicopters solve the Suez Canal blockage?” which was investigating whether helicopters could be a viable solution to the situation in the Suez Canal, the man-made canal which connects the Mediterranean to the Red Sea. The container ship Ever Given was stuck between the walls of canal which not only halted transportation but a good portion of the world’s trade through this vital trade route.

As the article explores, one of the options that Egyptian officials considered was using helicopters to help offload some of the ship’s cargo; therefore, making it lighter and hopefully easier to get unstuck. While the exact weight of the Ever Given was not disclosed, the article makes some good assumptions about its weight and how heavy the 40-foot-long containers aboard the ship might be. The article explores a variety of helicopter models, including the Black Hawk, Chinook, and Skycrane, to see if any of these have the capability of lifting the 30 tons a fully-loaded shipping container is estimated to weigh.

So I’m curious if any of you have a guess about what helicopter, if any, is capable of performing a job of this magnitude. If you have a guess, before you read this article, leave you answer in the comments. I want to see how many helicopter enthusiasts we have out there.

As you may have seen by now, the situation with the Ever Given was resolved after 6 days with the use of tugboats. They were able to extricate the ship from the Suez Canal without the use of helicopters, but it is very interesting to look at situations like this and understand the value that helicopters offer in a variety of difficult situations, such as aerial firefighting and emergency medical services. As industries change and new industries are established the potential uses for helicopters continue to grow, just like how helicopters now offer service and support to wind turbines.

In many of these industries, helicopters are often used for external load operations, such as what is being suggested in this article. It’s a skill most helicopter pilots will use during their professional careers which is why we offer an external load course as a part of the helicopter pilot education at Hillsboro. This course is in addition to our Professional Pilot Program which provides all of the fundamentals of flying a helicopter up through the advanced flight instructor rating.

Our external load course is done during the commercial pilot training to minimize extra costs. The training is done in the Robinson R44 at both on-airport and off-airport locations to ensure students are getting a wide variety of experience. This is an entry-level program designed to give students a foundation for this type of operation using multiple lengths on lines, up to 150 feet.

If you are interested in learning more about helicopter pilot education, please contact our admissions team so they can walk you through the course and how to best accomplish your aviation goals. You can reach them at 503.726.3000 or