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ROTAK Brings CH-47 Chinooks to Anchorage

Jul 7, 2022 | News, Transportation

CH-47D Rotak Helicopter

The aft of a tandem-rotor CH-47D joining the fleet of ROTAK Helicopters.

Columbia Helicopters

Anchorage-based ROTAK Helicopter Services is adding former military aircraft to its heavy-lift capabilities.

More Muscle in the Sky

The company took delivery of two Boeing CH-47D Chinooks from Columbia Helicopters, modified for firefighting and external loads. As a part of the sale, Columbia is providing full life cycle sustainment and airworthiness and technical publication services for the aircraft.

ROTAK mainly operates Kaman K-MAX, MD, and other Boeing helicopters, specializing in vertical construction, such as electrical transmission line and tower repair. The company has expanded into heli-logging, crew transport, mining support, and firefighting in Alaska and the Lower 48. The new Columbia aircraft are mainly for firefighting and super-heavy-lift long-line operations.

“We are honored to be the first company to purchase a tandem helicopter from Columbia. Adding these aircraft to our fleet and expanding our relationship with Columbia is a major milestone for the future of our operations,” says Ely Woods, ROTAK’s founder and general manager. “Columbia Helicopters pioneered the application of Chinook capabilities in the world of commercial heavy-lift and has evolved to become a proven and trusted provider of the critical manufacturing, maintenance, and materials support that ROTAK will rely on into the future.”

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Alaska Business December 2022 Cover

December 2022

ROTAK accepts delivery from Columbia Helicopters

ROTAK accepts delivery from Columbia Helicopters. Pictured left to right: Bob Buchanan of Columbia; Kevin Greenfield of ROTAK; Columbia Helicopters President and CEO Steve Bandy; ROTAK Founder and General Manager Ely Woods; Martin Cude of ROTAK; and Rob Roedts of Columbia.

Columbia Helicopters

The two CH-47D Chinook helicopters are former US Army aircraft. Both helicopters were upgraded by Columbia based on ROTAK’s selection from a menu of services:

  • A variety of Columbia-designed modifications and upgrades to reduce weight and increase the helicopters’ capabilities and efficiency in performing firefighting and long-line operations;
  • Columbia’s proprietary system to operate the SEI PowerFill Bambi Bucket, which is required equipment to support US Forest Service and CAL FIRE contracts for firefighting;
  • Avionics to improve situational awareness of other aircraft and terrain;
  • Columbia’s proprietary bubble window design to facilitate direct visual control, a reconfigured cockpit to improve pilot effectiveness, including removal of a third crewmember station;
  • Columbia’s in-house design modifications to improve overall reliability; and
  • Full flight and maintenance training for pilots and mechanics.

Multiple-year post-sale contracts for maintenance services and phase inspections, technical and AOG (aircraft-on-ground) services, component sparing and support, and ongoing pilot training.

“ROTAK is an exceptional external load and utility helicopter operator performing heavy-lift work in some of the most remote and inhospitable locations on earth,” says Mike Tremlett, Columbia’s executive vice president. “The Columbia CH-47D Chinook helicopter is an ideal addition to their fleet, providing them with increased lifting power, range, and capability to fight fires, perform vertical construction, and support a variety of other projects requiring unparalleled muscle and lifting power.”

Columbia Helicopters is based in Aurora, Oregon and specializes in operating and supplying tandem-rotor aircraft like the Chinook and its civilian predecessor, the Vertol Model 107-II.

Alaska Business December 2022 cover
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