Columbia River Bar Pilots to replace AW109SP with new aircraft

Columbia River Bar Pilots to replace AW109SP with new aircraft

20-Apr-2022 Source:

Columbia River Bar Pilots have utilised a helicopter to transfer marine pilots for over 20 years, having commenced with an MD Explorer as a trial back in 1998.  Settling for the AW109 platform, they utilised both a 109K2 and then a 109E Power, with flight operations managed by Arctic Air Service.

In 2012, and in line with a new operational contract with Brim Aviation, they acquired a new AW109SP Grand New.  This moved their operation forward in capability, and can reveal that they are in the process of the next step forward.  While retaining the AW109 platform, as its rotor diameter is very suited for the ships they routinely land on, the Columbia River Bar Pilots are in the process of buying another new AW109SP which will be fitted to an even higher standard.

The new aircraft is currently in Italy being prepared for shipping to the Leonardo base in Philadelphia, and the end of September is the target date for handover there.  Finally, Brim Aviation will then fly it out to the operational base at Astoria Regional Airport in Oregon, and then fully in service before the year end.  At this point the current aircraft will be sold.

The new helicopter will be a near copy of their existing 109SP with a utility interior with the swivel hoist operator seat in lieu of the forward bench seat. The aircraft has the hoist provision, and float provisions, engine washing kit, Bendix-King RDR 2000 weather radar, a Cobham NPX-138 radio, Cargo hook, and HEELS (Helicopter Emergency Egress Lighting Systems).  A Super Nightscanner with LED will be installed in Philadelphia, as well as Donaldson Inlet Barrier filters, and the RSG ADS-B solution STC.

The predominant colour will continue to be bright yellow, but rather than having just the single block colour, the new aircraft will also have black accents from the exhaust back.

The Columbia River Bar Pilots were established in 1846 to ensure the safety of ships, crews and cargoes crossing the treacherous Columbia River Bar, which is recognized as one of the most dangerous and challenging navigated stretches of water in the world.

The volume of water flowing from the Columbia River and the force of impact with North Pacific storms combine to create daunting sea conditions. Successful passage grants access to many inland ports, where economic transportation of goods between the Pacific Northwest and the world averages about 40 million tons of cargo valued at $23 billion each year.

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