Helicopter Logistics: Supporting Industries and Initiatives Across Western Australia
Whether it’s fighting bushfires, strategically carrying external loads, or surveying land for mining, the crew at Helicopter Logistics is helping to support industries and initiatives across Western Australia by providing aerial services to even the most remote locations.
Since 2005, Helicopter Logistics hasn’t strayed too far from the aerial geophysics work they started out doing. Today, they work closely with government entities like the Western Australian Department of Biodiversity, Conservation, and Attraction. Contracts like these are often seasonal gigs, with fire mitigation operations and the summer bushfire season spanning from late September to June.
To fight fires from the air, a pilot will take on the role of Air Attack Pilot, which Managing Director Matt Corbett explains as an “air traffic controller for bushfires.” Here, a helicopter will operate at 1,500ft above a bush fire and manage the surrounding fire suppression aircraft.
“To train a pilot to do that takes a long time,” explains Corbett, “After ground school training, we put pilots in the backseat of a helicopter and go to as many fire callouts as possible, until they get a good understanding on how to implement their training.”
Corbett says training plays a significant role in how the company keeps its operations safe. Their crew is already experienced, with pilots averaging 20 years of flying, but they do specific training when starting with Helicopter Logistics. Even their maintenance crew also undergoes continuous training.
In many ways, safety is a significant part of the culture at Helicopter Logistics, with a reporting system that encourages employees to bring up safety concerns, as well as a Safety Management System (SMS).
It may be no surprise then that eight years ago, Spidertracks arrived on board.
Corbett says that before Spidertracks, pilots had to rely on High Frequency (HF) radios and flight services for tracking. It’s hard for him to imagine now. As Australia’s largest state, with a coastline that spans 13,000 km, a helicopter trip from one corner of Western Australia to the other would take two days.
“It’s a different place to work,” says Corbett, “There’s a lot of remote areas and a lot of nothingness, which Spidertracks helps with. If we have an issue, then we know exactly where the aircraft is.”Corbett and his team also use the data that comes alongside Spidertracks tracking capability when working with clients. For example, if a client asks where an aircraft was and what it was doing at any given time, the team can pull up the historical information.
Helicopter Logistics primarily does contractual work, which means a large part of their daily operations is reporting.
“We know what the aircraft was doing. Some of that [information] goes to the client, and some of it goes into our system. We’ll generate invoices off of that as well,” explains Corbett.
Right now, the company is in its ‘off period,’ but that doesn’t mean it’s slow. Their administration side continues all year, as well as their land management contracts. So, although they are not fighting fires, there is still a lot of data coming in to sift through and report.
Fifteen years on, Helicopter Logistics hasn’t deviated too far from where they started - and it’s worked. The business continues to grow, even throughout a global pandemic. New contracts are on the horizon, and Corbett says he still enjoys the work that got him started in the first place.
“I love doing aerial work. You know, working out on a bushfire, doing mining exploration work, construction work, and external loads with helicopters.”“And we’ve done that ever since we set the company up.”