Shipping a helicopter internationally? How hard could it be?

September 12, 2014

Shipping-a-Helicopter-Internationally-How-Hard-Could-it-BeIt would seem that the simplest way to get a helicopter from point A to point B would be to fly it, but at times, this isn’t realistic and the helicopters have to ship internationally across oceans. International helicopter shipping and transport requires a huge amount of logistical strategy and resourcefulness – and at times, a great deal of patience. Take the word of Dave Urban, Helicopter Customer Support & Services at Sea Cargo Air Cargo Logistics Inc., an industry leader in international Freight Forwarding.
Sea Cargo Air Cargo Logistics have been shipping helicopters internationally for many years through many countries and over many oceans. SCACLI’s Support & Service team truly has seen it all in terms of the worst weather, international red tape and unbelievable situations from where cargo needs to be shipped to and from and yet Urban says “We love the challenge of shipping helicopters and overcoming all the odds to get our customer’s cargo where it needs to be,” says Urban. “We had a client who needed a Bell 412 HP transported from Mumbai, India to Lima, Peru. It included a 40′ flat rack (airframe) a 40′ standard for tail boom, main rotor blades and transmission. The scope of responsibility was immense”, he explained. “Loading a Bell twin engine medium helicopter in downtown Mumbai is tricky at best. Although I had good Bell engineers with me, they had not completed a project of such magnitude as this before,” explains Urban.

With the 43 degree F weather during the day and the near-impossible task of coordinating two oversized trucks in the Mumbai traffic, the work could only be completed at night. In addition to managing the traffic, the power lines had to be raised to accommodate the flat rack which was over 14 feet tall. There is a great deal of logistics and planning that goes into shipping large-scale cargo like helicopters such as:

a) Intensive communication strategies that need to be executed to open communications with local, national and international agencies involved from local police to border patrols and more.
b) Closing down intersections with tight corners, to allow for the large trucks to manoeuver.
c) Special permits to request and issue to allow the general laborers hired to keep tree branches off the helicopter.

Urban’s persistence prevailed and his team loaded the helicopter in two days. He sat on top of the helicopter as it transited Mumbai city streets at 5 kilometers per hour. It was transported 150 kilometers to port and loaded with a crane onto an ocean vessel. The helicopter arrived in Callao, Peru damage-free, on-time, and on-budget.

Another story that stands out for Urban was an Air Bus Helicopter AS 350 B2 that SCACLI transported from Beamsville, Ontario Canada, to Honolulu, Hawaii with just a few stops in between.

Preparations were being made for the annual Helicopter Expo which is held every year in the United States; this particular year it was being held in Dallas, Texas. Urban received a call from a Canadian client who had a buyer travelling from Hawaii to Dallas to purchase a helicopter.

“Being the proactive gentlemen that he was, he decided to bring a brand new AS 350 B2 to Dallas in anticipation of selling it to the Hawaiian buyer”, recalled Urban. “This was an absolute beautiful machine, finished in a sharp pearl metallic black with white racing stripes. As with most helicopter shipping, the helicopter is dismantled for easier transport – blades are removed, the transmission is pulled, and the tail boom comes off in order to make the helicopter smaller. “This was a unique case,” comments Urban, “ because our client wanted to have the helicopter show up in Dallas without any dismantling or “breaking of the paint” which happens when you start to take things off.”

Urban, obliged with the request and by using a double drop air ride trailer, he travelled with the helicopter cargo approximately 3,500 kilometres from Beamsville to Dallas with only the main rotor blades removed, the whole time while protecting the machine from damage. Once in Dallas he stayed with the helicopter for 20 hours straight until it was their turn to move the helicopter from the marshaling yard into the convention center where SCACLI’s client had his trade show booth.

The hard work was worth it and his client sold the AS 350 B2 helicopter. That’s when the next round of work began. Urban was approached by the new owner of the helicopter and inquired about having the helicopter shipped to Honolulu. He then had to take apart the helicopter, load it on a 20 foot airline pallet, truck the helicopter to Los Angeles, and then use the only 747 freighter into Honolulu. From start to finish, the SCACLI team was able to achieve a transit time from Beamsville to Honolulu, under 15 days, including all the trucking, the time at the show, dismantlement and loading.

SCACLI’s complete hanger to hanger process includes disassembly, specialized shipping fixtures, import and export certificates of air worthiness. They understand the special requirements and the difficult process of foreign customs, and assist with country specific importation solutions and temporary importations and carnets where applicable.

SCACLI ships Eurocopter, Bell Helicopter, Agusta, McDonnell Douglas Helicopter and Sikorsky machines from any point in the world to any destination.

SCACLI’s Helicopter services include:
• Meticulous planning & damage deterrence
• Disassembly,
• All specialized shipping gear and fixtures,
• Complete exportation (de-registration),
• Export certificates of air worthiness,
• All import requirements,
• Re-assembly,
• Import Certificates of Airworthiness
• Registration in the applicable countries.
• Complete supervision at loading and unloading of airport and seaports.

For more information on helicopter shipping and international freight forwarding, please visit

Sea Cargo Air Cargo Logistics Inc. is a Canadian-owned international freight forwarder that provides integrated logistics services in some of the world’s most challenging environments. Shipping demands and expectations are 24/7, 365 days a year – and often unpredictable. SCACLI provides the responsiveness and flexibility of 24/7 service combined with creative solutions to fit its customers’ demands. For more information on freight forwarders or international shipping, importing or exporting, visit

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