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Volga-Dnepr and Chapman Freeborn transport six McDermott Aviation Bell 214B helicopters from Greece to Australia

Volga-Dnepr and Chapman Freeborn transport six McDermott Aviation Bell 214B helicopters from Greece to Australia 11/04/2021

Chapman Freeborn and Volga-Dnepr Airlines have successfully collaborated with McDermott Aviation to demobilise helicopters from Greece. This most recent operation involved the repatriation of 6 McDermott Aviation Bell 214B helicopters to Australia on an AN124 aircraft.

The helicopters, totalling 35 tonnes, were flown individually into Athens Airport (ATH) by a single pilot who landed them on the tarmac prior to them being dismantled airside and exported as IATA-compliant air cargo. Usually exports would take place within a cargo terminal, however the Bell 214Bs’ exceptional versatility enables a level of mobility that is invaluable when dealing with complex load planning, airport coordination and constraints pertaining to the COVID-19 pandemic. Loading onto the AN124 was executed with the help of Volga-Dnepr’s internal cranes, external equipment and the highly-specialised expertise of Volga-Dnepr and McDermott Aviation crew.

It is a rare occurrence and colossal achievement for 6 helicopters to be transported in one aircraft simultaneously, and the success of this charter required all parties involved to embrace this challenging and dynamic situation. The Chapman Freeborn team worked closely with experts including McDermott’s helicopter engineers, Volga-Dnepr’s loadmaster and other crew from both organisations comprising of 24 people in total, to seamlessly coordinate the operation.

The team also navigated complexities presented by COVID-19 to ensure PCR tests, vaccinations and COVID-safe procedures were all prioritised.

Thanks to the hard work and dedication of everyone involved, this important and rare charter meant that the 6 helicopters arrived punctually at Perth Airport (PER).

Michael Amson, Cargo & Passenger Charter Manager at Chapman Freeborn, said, “Without the support and cooperation of all parties involved in this extraordinary charter, it would not have been the success that it was. We would like to thank Volga-Dnepr Airlines, McDermott Aviation, DNATA, Cargo Connect, and Signature Flight Support for their combined efforts, which ultimately enabled the client to continue their vital work in the emergency services sector without interruption.”

Ekaterina Andreeva, Commercial Director, Volga-Dnepr Airlines, highlights: “Some people might say – it is impossible to transport six helicopters aboard one plane, but here is what distinguishes air cargo specialists – we make impossible possible by bringing together the right people at the right time armed with competences, experience and equipment. We would like to thank everyone involved in this mega-project which will go down into the history of our life-saving logistics operations”.

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