Home' Collective Magazine : Heliweb Magazine January 2017 Contents January 2017 | 47
10 minutes by helicopter. Perched
halfway up a mountain on the outskirts
of town, is a small, purpose built gravel
staging area for constructing a new
$3.6million power line across the valley.
Stattnet, Norway’s state-owned
enterprise responsible for construction,
operation and ongoing management
of the stem power grid, sub-contracted
Nord Helikopter to help build the
new line while removing the current
The staging area, packed full of
winches, fuel and cable drums, pulleys,
rows of insulators stacked in crates and
other equipment, is a hive of constant
activity with a stream of new materials
coming in by truck daily.
Back in the far corner almost hidden
from sight, is a bright orange AS350B3e,
one of the many assigned to this
contract from Nord Helicopter, crewed
by veteran pilot Kristian Backer and his
loadmaster Asbjørn Engevik.
Kristian has been a pilot for over twelve
years and is one of sixteen permanent
and freelance pilots employed by
the company, working a fourteen on
fourteen off rotation.
The weather in the construction area
is not always great, suffering IFR
conditions often, as low lying cloud is
very typical for the area.
Sometimes the weather lifts as the
temperature rises, but some day’s
progress slowly due to a combination
of rain showers, low clouds, and
fog that hampers progress. Backer
informs us that two weeks before our
arrival, it was clear blue skies and
sunshine, but the eight weeks prior
had been nothing but continuous
rain, slowing progress to a crawl as
the area became soaked by the most
rainfall it had seen in over a century.
As the day rolls on, Backer and other
pilots on this contract must continually
assess the weather around them.
Constantly evaluating to avoid
becoming stuck on the side of the
mountain or flying in conditions that
could see pilots become caught
in weather that could lead to an
Inadvertent Instrument Meteorological
Conditions (IIMC) situation.
Weather in the area frequently sees
warm moist air from over the fjords
that gust up the mountains, causing
the air to cool and condense, creating
hazardous conditions in a matter of
Asbjørn, our loadmaster on the
flight, is one of nine working for the
company who are all commercial
pilots. The loadmasters working
for Nord Helikopter are required
to complete at least two years as a
loadmaster before starting their flight
training in the Astar for Nord.
Asbjørn told us it is a great way to
learn about the job and the industry
while gaining vital knowledge from
very experienced pilots.
Their role as loadmasters involves
many tasks to make sure everything
runs smoothly. Consisting of safely
loading passengers, hooking up and
securing cargo, refueling the aircraft,
acting as a safety pilot, ensuring
all aircraft equipment is available
and serviceable, and making sure
the helicopter is clean along with
anything else asked by the pilot- Not
a job for everyone no doubt.
Passengers are not permitted to fly
without a loadmaster escorting them
in and out of the aircraft - including
being dropped at off-site locations,
limiting the carrying capacity of
clients from five to four in the interest
As soon as a break in the weather
occurs, the crew immediately jump
into action, spooling up the turbine.
A previous load brief from the
construction supervisor notifies the
team of the type loads and the order
they are to be transported.
This, in turn, tells the loadmaster
if they should get in the helicopter
or stay behind to hook up any
equipment or loads needing
transportation to one of the offsite
Along the three kilometer span of
the power line, there are multiple
construction sites with as many as
twenty-five workers that may require
relocating to different spots on the
project each day.
Weather can vary drastically at each
location due to the terrain, which
further complicates a pilot’s day as
well as the daily progress of the
NORD HELIKOPTER | Safety, Power & Performance
46 | heliweb magazine
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