September 1, 2011
Norway's Hesnes Air has found an interesting and profitable niche operation, working for the major electricity supply companies with its Eurocopter AS350B3.
"We recently cleared a power line that runs from Rjukan to Skien, both small towns situated in the middle of Norway," says head of sales and marketing Sissel Kirkvaag. "The line has a lot of history behind it. It was built during the war, the Germans used the Russian prisoners and locals to put up masts.
"They used horse-sleds to drag the steel beams and the masts were built bit by bit on each point. They had over 100 men at work and the line was completed sometime in 1943. The reason for building the power line was to be able to distribute power that was produced from a large waterfall in Rjukan."
Hallingmast, the company that hired Hesnes, took down the steel masts and divided them into 900-1,000kg pieces so that they could be flown out.
"On the highest masts which are up to 40 metres, there can be 15 parts on one mast. In Norway where the country has a lot of high mountains and large woods without roads, helicopters with experienced long line pilots are very important for this kind of operation," Kirkvaag adds.
Founded in 1992, Hesnes Air has its headquarters at Nøtterøy, Tønsberg, with its office and hangar at Sandefjord Airport, Torp. It operates a Citation Encore and King Air B200 as well as the Eurocopter AS350B3. "I guess it is unusual to be a helicopter and jet operator at the same time," says Kirkvaag. "The common ground between the two is that we can give our clients a little extra service. As the helicopter takes five passengers, we can transport them to another airport, a meeting, their cabins at sea or in the mountains. They can just take two steps from the jet and they are off to their destination."
Mostly the helicopter and the fixed wing aircraft are operated as two separate activities.