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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 February 2024 Cover

February 2024

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 February 2024 cover
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Architecture & Engineering Special Section + Small Business

February 2024

In the February 2024 issue of Alaska Business, we engineered a special section that inspects the many ways architecture and engineering enrich our lives, from creating beautiful and functional spaces to crafting functional and safe transportation corridors. In addition to the built world in which we live, this issue celebrates small businesses and the many functions they provide, whether they're developing tools in the healthcare industry or opening new dining locations.

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