Helicopters and airplanes can fly virtually anywhere in the world, but sometimes the most reasonable way to move them across oceans is by ship. That’s part of what Bruzzone Shipping does and the reason the company is here at Heli-Expo’13, but it’s not all it does.
In business for 44 years, the company started as a U.S. Customs House broker and international freight forwarder, which it still does, along with warehousing and international shipping by surface vessels and cargo airplanes.
“We ship all sorts of helicopters,” company president Victor Bruzzone (pronounced “bru-ZO-nee,”) told AIN. “Civil and military, SAR, VIP, transport. Some are new, others are used. The smaller ones we put in standard shipping containers. The larger ones we’ll put on roll-on/roll-off decks of the ship.”
Bruzzone Shipping’s aircraft division, Helicopter International Shipping Services (HISS, Booth No. C4728), transports about 75 to 100 helicopters a year, either by sea or air. Although shipping aircraft is not the biggest part of the company’s business, “it’s the most fun,” Bruzzone said. “As we’re speaking, my brother is in Connecticut loading two helicopters.” The company started HISS in the late 1980s.
HISS has its own employees who are trained and qualified to remove and crate rotor blades, but the company often works with a manufacturer’s staff as well. Much of the company’s business is with Sikorsky Aircraft, but it does work for most other OEMs, though not new helicopters for Robinson Helicopter, which loads its own containers.
Last year, HISS coordinated the “ocean movements,” as Bruzzone put it, for Sikorsky’s “Legacy of Heroes” S-92 tour in the U.S., Southeast Asia and India. These movements included Baltimore to Singapore, Singapore to India and then back from India to Baltimore, all on roll-on/roll-off vessels.
The overall container-shipping business is down, he explained, but shipping of smaller, used helicopters in containers seems steady. “There are apparently a lot of owners who are selling their smaller helicopters,” he said. “We probably shipped out 30 to 40 small helicopters in containers last year.”
HISS just opened a new office in Houston on March 1. “There are a lot of helicopter operators in the region, especially for oil and gas, and many aircraft transfers,” Bruzzone said, “We wanted to be closer to the customers.”
Bruzzone Shipping’s headquarters is in New York City, while its other “gateway offices” are in Baltimore, Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and Los Angeles.