Coast to Coast with MI Helicopters
From emergency powerline work and surveying, to controlled and uncontrolled fires - the pilots at MI Helicopters know how to work under pressure.
We spoke to Kevin Clark, CEO of MI Helicopters, who’s in his 30th year of flying, and has over 10,000 hours under his belt!
MI Helicopters have two bases of operation in Australia - in Roma, Queensland, and the other based in Caloundra, on the East Coast. They have single and twin-engine turbine helicopters in their fleet, providing a range of viable alternatives to ground-based travel and specialising in remote area operations.
In the beginning
Originally founded in 1993, MI Helicopters joined the Omni Executive’s Aerospace team earlier this year.
A focus for the team has always been to embrace technological enablers, allowing them to serve their customers safely and efficiently.
Hence, MI Helicopters is an excellent fit for the Omni Aerospace Division. They are now a part of a broader group of Spidertracks users with a presence on both the East and West Coasts of Australia. Together with Spidertracks, the team is confident with flight monitoring and fleet management.
MI Helicopters are among the early adopters of Spidertracks - they have virtually been with us on the journey since the beginning. The team initially used a Spider 1 for a couple of months, and never looked back - they’ve had Spiders installed in all their machines ever since.
Visibility when there’s low visibility
Pilots at MI Helicopters can often find themselves flying through varying conditions, whether this be over desert-like landscapes, or fighting the heated battle with aerial firefighting. Kevin recalls being right in the thick of bushfires. “It’s pretty hard work, a lot of high intensity, a lot of pressure on the pilot, a tough work environment,” he says,
“A lot is going on, and visibility is not good. There’s lots of smoke around, and lots of other aircraft.”
The region of Western Queensland also sees storm fronts as a common occurrence, causing multiple power lines to go down in the area. The team supports emergency work — flying in to lift and shift poles and supplies around. “Some of the tracks that we do, they can break a snake’s back.” notes Kevin, “because there are so many bends and twists!”
He tells us about the benefit of having live weather overlays and the ability to see precisely where his pilots are flying.
“We have our Spiders set to ping every two minutes, so we can instantly see where they are flying. With the radar overlay, we can see the storm fronts in real-time and guide our pilots around the weather, because we can see where they’re tracking.”
The team not only does some heavy lifting but also helps escort personnel to and from sites through remote areas. The ETA feature in Spidertracks allows the team to inform customers how far away an aircraft is.
“You can talk to your clients and say it’s going to be exactly 33 minutes from landing,” says Kevin. “It provides peace of mind, and is part of our safety management system.”
The team can also create and remove logins to the Spidertracks Platform as and when they are required. It gives them the flexibility to let a client watch a flight path as well, especially as aircraft fly through Western Queensland, Southwestern, or Northwest in South Australia — desolate land where there is no cellular coverage. “When we get out into the Western desert areas, the cell coverage drops away.”
Assurance from the ground
Kevin reflects on “the old way” of communicating, which many operators worldwide still rely on — “The old way of just calling in; the aircraft calls in every hour or something like that, it’s not the same as just being able to track it.” He can’t imagine working without Spidertracks - flying remote areas, with the ability to receive location updates every minute, compared calling in every hour - how do you even begin to compare!
If you would like to see how Spidertracks can help you keep track of your team in the skies, get in touch with us today to schedule a free demo.