HAI Convention News

Helinet is eye in the sky

 - September 29, 2006, 8:41 AM

Helinet is a company well known in Hollywood circles. And it’s a familiar name to media bigwigs in New York, Denver and other big cities. You see, entertainment and news is Helinet’s business.

Helinet Aviation Services is an ENG (electronic news gathering) helicopter provider that also regularly flies charter trips carrying celebrities and Fortune 500 executives. Another part of its business is Helinet Cinema Solutions, a turnkey provider for aerial shots and stunts for film and commercial producers. Hence, the direct Hollywood connection.

Headquartered in Van Nuys, Calif., Helinet is led by David Calvert-Jones.

“Helinet owns the systems and the aircraft–mostly AStars, a few Bells–and we lease them as a turnkey operation to about 50 broadcast stations around the country,” Calvert-Jones explained.

Further strengthening the company’s film industry tie, subsidiary Cineflex engineers, designs and manufactures electromechanical motion control systems for television and motion picture production, while sister company Geneva Aviation is the production operation, integrating and certifying Cineflex products in the aircraft. Together, the divisions account for the bulk of Helinet’s annual revenue.

Located in Grass Valley, Calif., north of Sacramento, Cineflex focuses on the design and manufacture of gyro-stabilized camera systems. It was the first to offer live aerial high-definition television applications, including the first fully digital video downlink system.

In August last year, Helinet Aviation Services received clearance from the FAA as the sole commercial operator to provide aerial images from areas affected by Hurricane Katrina. Coverage began soon after the early morning storm hit. Helinet continued supplying live and taped images to relief and news organizations from above New Orleans and Biloxi, Miss., and other affected areas for days.

Company Adds Another Stablemate

Helinet purchased integrator Geneva Aviation about 18 months ago, Calvert-Jones said. Geneva holds STCs for broadcast equipment and now is the production part of the business.

Here at Heli-Expo, Geneva is displaying its new-technology Quick-Change ENG Cabinet System for Bell 206 and 407 series. It allows removal of all aft cabin ENG controls and radios for high-definition and analog platforms in less than 10 minutes based on a “no-tools” approach, allowing the aircraft to assume an executive or utility configuration.

Geneva is also announcing an alliance with Dart Helicopter Services. The Tennessee helicopter marketer has been appointed exclusive distributor of the Geneva product line. In addition, Cineflex is debuting its new Magnum multisensor HD camera system that is claimed to put unparalleled surveillance technology into the hands of law enforcement, government security and military agencies.

Geneva Aviation Technologies and Cineflex are exhibiting in sister booths (Nos. 1125 and 1022) at Heli-Expo’06.