Windfarm Support Boosts Helicopter Operations

As we focus this month on helicopter industry news, something we are seeing more of is the use of helicopters to support wind turbine operations. Helicopters provide vital support in a number of areas, including maintenance support, cleaning, and in the case of offshore windfarms, assisting with getting personnel to those remote locations.

This recent article from Vertical entitled, “A day in the life of a helicopter pilot in the offshore wind turbine sector,” gives a great first-hand perspective on what it’s like to fly these missions using a hoist to lower technicians and cargo onto the platform near the windfarm. The featured pilot is performing operations in Heligoland, a tiny island in the southeastern corner of the North Sea. Here is a brief excerpt from the article: “Nowadays, for most of the year, this tiny island is battered by wind, rain, hail, sleet, and snow. There are three large windfarms located to the north of the island, and our job was to fly technicians to them when sea conditions didn’t allow boat operations. We had to fly alongside the “basket” located at the top of the wind turbine, and lower the technicians and cargo down on a hoist. After some training, this became quite routine. We were trained to work as a team, and to maneuver the aircraft close to the target. Teamwork is essential in this kind of work, particularly when it involves a “dead turbine,” where we carry out the task while the turbine blades are still slowly moving. It certainly demands a lot of trust in your hoist operator.”

He goes on to explain, in detail, the mission that took place one winter’s day in a location where the weather can change rapidly. It’s a fascinating read for any pilot who is looking to gain new experience or for those who are considering a career as a pilot.

His experience is also relatable because he talks about the hurdles he faced becoming a pilot and finding the right path for him. He was working in the oil and gas industry and when oil prices plummeted in 2015, he had to adapt. He obtained an additional type rating which opened the door to him taking a hoisting course that would prepare him for operations supporting the windfarms. Being open to new possibilities and opportunities is often key for helicopter pilots as the world changes and evolves.

If you are considering a career as a helicopter pilot, articles like this that walk you through a day in the life are a great opportunity to see the challenges and rewards that this career path offers and decide if you want to take the next step toward this career. If you are ready to learn more about FAA helicopter training, our team is here to help. We can answer your questions and work out a plan to help you achieve your aviation goals. You can reach our team at 503.726.3000 or