July 25 - Portland, Oregon based Columbia Helicopters has deployed one of its heavy lift aircraft in support of a ski lift refurbishment project in North-Central Washington State, USA.

A twin rotor Columbia Vertol 107-II was contracted to the Stevens Pass Ski Resort to remove and replace steel cross arms for 12 lift towers along the Jupiter ski lift. The cross arms are the main support structures for cables that move the ski lift chairs.

The old ski lift equipment is being replaced with a high-speed lift system.

Ski lift construction is a specialised segment of the heavy lift helicopter industry because of the high precision flying skills required, says Dan Sweet, public relations manager for Columbia Helicopters.

"The helicopters have to be able to suspend the cross arms very steadily so that the construction crews can attach them to the towers. The towers, themselves, are equipped with attachment bolts, while the cross arms contain the holes into which the bolts will fit.  The trick is to help the construction crews align the bolts and holes precisely-while the helicopter is in a hover mode."

Colombia Helicopters was also tasked with moving mixed concrete to the ski lift upper terminal, and a new terminal under-construction along the ski run. The freshly mixed concrete was loaded directly from cement mixer trucks into 1.15 cu m buckets that the helicopter hauled to the building sites - located approximately 2 km away with little or no-access for ground vehicles.

For both phases of the construction project approximately 10-12 hours of flight time was required, says Columbia's Sweet.

Columbia Helicopters has a fleet of 13 heavy lift Vertol 107-IIs and six Model 234 Chinook helicopters and specialises in the support of construction projects, natural resource extraction and wild land firefighting.