Tuesday, December 13, 2022

Helicopter ice chunk

Air Greenland technicians changed a helicopter engine on top of a mountain on the ice sheet

A frozen helicopter is stuck on top of a mountain. Chips had got into the engine, so the motor had to be replaced on-site, on a telemast far from civilisation.


However, the moody October weather showed teeth and when a team from Air Greenland flew up to replace the engine, it would almost be hard to tell that it was an Air Greenland helicopter.


The distinctive red colour was barely visible as it was covered in up to five centimetres of ice.

A very good picture of Air Greenland's employees working under special conditions, says Chief Pilot AS350, Daniel Skoglund.

- Working in Greenland is a very special challenge. When the infrastructure is the way it is, where for example there is no way up to the telesite, it becomes a big operation pretty quickly, he says.


Without the ice, it's already an unusual situation. The chief pilot explains that changing an engine is a special task, outside the heat and protection of a hangar.


That's why the task was now challenging, even coming at the end of the flying season. However, it didn't take much persuasion to get people up there. At least not for Aircraft Technician Nicki Sarkov Petersen.

- Telesite. 800 metres above sea level and right next to the ice sheet. 70 kilometres southeast of Uummannaq. I said yes, almost immediately. It sounded like a great experience, says the technician.


His team arrived at the remote site for the first check on 14 October, when there was nothing unusual but a lone helicopter on top of a mountain.


It wasn't this time, however, that the engine was changed, because the weather wanted it differently. The weather forecast did not predict good outdoor working conditions.


- We were going to have heat waves and rain, which turned into sleet and snow and frost," recalls Nicki Sarkov Petersen.


They took off the foliage to spare the helicopter and flew back to Ilulissat. There was a good indication of what was in store for the helicopter. Heavy rain, replaced by cold.

En succeshistorie

A succes story

The weather was still causing problems. The technicians had to work in 8 degrees of frost, and at one point the wind speed was over 20 metres per second, and work had to be suspended again. At least until the wind died down, as it did after lunch. Nine hours after the work to change the engine began, the helicopter had a new engine and was flown home.


A success story, says Daniel Skoglund.

- I think it's very impressive with Air Greenland. That we have the resources, manpower, knowledge and skills to actually get a whole new engine on a helicopter stranded on a telesite pretty quickly. Get the engine set up and changed, and actually get the helicopter back down in a matter of days," he says.


- It just shows that Air Greenland has the knowledge and experience to operate in really harsh conditions, says the chief pilot.