Generally speaking, helicopters don’t fly across the Pacific Ocean–and rarely even the Atlantic. For that reason, manufacturers and dealers alike rely on shipping companies, such as Victor Bruzzone’s Helicopter International Shipping Services (HISS), to move the rotorcraft safely and efficiently from one side of the globe to the other.
“As a freight-forwarding company we don’t own the ships or the airplanes, trucks or trains that do the transporting, but we coordinate the entire affair, and our people are on hand to supervise the process throughout,” Bruzzone told AIN here at Heli-Expo 2012 (Booth No. 7844). His customers include manufacturers Augusta-Westland and Sikorsky, as well as used aircraft dealers and individuals who simply want their helicopters to be available to them as they travel the globe.
HISS manages the movement of the aircraft, including customs export/import paperwork to disassembly and reassembly, essentially ensuring the customer has an airworthy, ready-to-fly product at the end of the shipping process.
Helicopters, however, are not shaped well for your standard ocean-going shipping container (with the exception of the diminutive Robinson line), according to Bruzzone, who co-owns HISS with his brother Fred.
“Depending on the aircraft, we will probably remove certain components and pack those separately, or, if it is small enough, such as with a Robinson, it might just make it into a standard shipping container, if packed properly,” Bruzzone said. “Then we’ll put it on a ship.
“Predominately, the bigger helicopters will go onto a roll-on, roll-off vessel,” he explained. These ocean-going freighters are specifically designed to handle shipments that are too large or oddly shaped to be crated or contained. The helicopters, rotors stowed, are simply towed onboard and chained down for the voyage.
But some helicopters absolutely, positively must be delivered in short order, and in this case the only viable option is air freight. HISS specializes in these more complicated shipping situations, having stuffed an Sikorsky S-76 into the belly of a Boeing 747 freighter, and, more recently (and Houdini-like), managed, with Sikorsky’s help, to wedge three Sikorsky S-92s, weighing 15,500 pounds (7,030 kg) each, into the belly of the behemoth Antonov An-124.
Though the company specializes in moving helicopters, it is willing to take on the task of supervising shipping for fixed-wing aircraft, as well. “The smaller ones, we remove the wings and pack the fuselage into a container with them. When it comes to jets, we become the handler and help you clear your new purchase through customs, and we handle all the paperwork,” he said.