Sponsored by Oregon Business

Oregon helicopters do the heavy lifting

| Print |  Email
Articles - Jan/Feb 2012
Thursday, January 19, 2012


Many Oregon copter firms assist with firefighting and would like to get more involved in disaster response.

Erickson’s fleet of 17 helicopters has also installed 8,000 miles worth of power transmission lines, delivered snow for the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, B.C., and installed many of the ski lifts at major resorts around the U.S., including the newest lift at Mt. Hood Meadows in the fall.

Erickson is unique among the other members of the consortium in that it is also a manufacturer of helicopters, the Erickson S-64 Aircrane. The company’s manufacturing facility in Central Point, which employs 300 of Erickson’s 400 Oregon workers, can build four of the helicopters per year. It has manufactured 32 to date. In 2010, revenue from Erickson’s manufacturing, maintenance and services topped $118 million.

In November, the company announced it was laying off 119 employees, most of them in Central Point, in order to cut costs, and in December, it reaffirmed its plan for an initial public offering, through which it hopes to raise $75 million.

Several of Oregon’s helicopter companies have also turned to aircraft maintenance as a way to grow their revenue. Columbia, for example, recently invested about $4 million in an engine overhaul and testing facility at its location in Aurora that will expand its maintenance capabilities. The company already works on not only its own aircraft, but also those of foreign nations such as Thailand, Singapore and The Netherlands.

The seven companies came together under the heavy-lift consortium in 2006 in part as a response to missed opportunities during Hurricane Katrina. But the consortium is also helping to unify an industry whose major players all face similar issues, whether it be a lack of workforce training options or bureaucratic red tape from the likes of the Federal Aviation Administration that slows down operations.

“There’s been times when we’ve had ships grounded in Afghanistan for months because of governmental procedures,” says Elise Bair, director of business development for Evergreen Helicopters in McMinnville.

“It’s insane the way the FAA inhibits the growth of the aviation industry,” says state Sen. Betsy Johnson, D-Scappoose, who was a working helicopter pilot herself for 20 years. “These companies make Oregon proud, but the federal partners are a drag on the entire industry.”

Oregon helicopter companies would like to see FAA regulations loosened up a bit to help facilitate their businesses a little more. They’d also like to have more training opportunities for aircraft mechanics and pilots, and through the consortium, they’re also working on agreements with agencies like Oregon Emergency Management on possible contracts for emergency response operations.

“We really see excellent opportunities for growth for our helicopters and for the industry in general,” says Columbia’s Petersen.


More Articles

Make the business case, governor

Linda Baker
Thursday, November 05, 2015
aoikatebrownthumbBY LINDA BAKER

Gov. Kate Brown delivered the keynote speech at the Associated Oregon Industries annual policy forum yesterday.  Speaking to a Republican-aligned audience of about 100 business and public policy leaders, the governor was out of her comfort zone.


Seven questions about mandatory sick leave

Contributed Blogs
Wednesday, October 28, 2015
102815-contributedthumbBY DIANE BUISMAN

Many employers have questions about what mandatory sick leave means for their company. Take a look at the top 7 questions Oregon employers are asking.


Insurance pulse: health care and Export-Import banks

Linda Baker
Tuesday, November 17, 2015
111715-healthcarelindathumbBY LINDA BAKER

The past month has been marked by upheaval in the health insurance markets. I also check in on clients of the Export-Import bank, a federal credit agency that subsidizes, and insures, foreign exports.


Video: 100 Best Nonprofits to Work For in Oregon 2015

The Latest
Monday, October 05, 2015
100-best-NP-logo-2015-video-thumbVIDEO BY JESSE LARSON

Profiling some of the organizations featured in the 2015 list.


5 questions for Ruby Jewel creator Lisa Herlinger

The Latest
Saturday, October 24, 2015

What's it like working with your sister and how do you compete in Portland's crowded artisan ice cream space?


Where Do We Go from Here?

Guest Blog
Wednesday, October 21, 2015
102115-thumbBY JASON NORRIS | CFA

Volatility reigned supreme over the summer. The old Wall Street adage of, “Sell in May and go away,” was prophetic in 2015.


The Shift to Community Health Care

November/December 2015
Wednesday, October 28, 2015

A conversation with Patrick Curran, CEO of CareOregon.

Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02