Helicopter lift for heavy HVAC equipment

A helicopter lift is sometimes what you need for hauling heavy HVAC equipment. It was a sight for Southern Air’s construction HVAC and sheet metal teams. They laughed at the top of their lungs as the Sikorsky S61N helicopter roared overtop their heads hauling heavy HVAC equipment for them to install on a manufacturing rooftop. It’s hard to imagine a desk job on a day like today.

When looking at most commercial and industrial buildings, where do you find their HVAC equipment? The bigger the building, the larger the size and quantity of equipment is needed. Customer space is always at a premium. Businesses maximize their revenue-producing areas, which HVAC and mechanical equipment take away from. This is why you will find these huge cooling units, fans, pumps and other comfort-related systems located on rooftops. Many times the most efficient and cost-effective method of hoisting equipment is a crane but when there are 33 heavy pieces that need to go up, why not just have a helicopter lift it?

Southern Air’s construction HVAC and sheet metal teams recently set 12 make-up air units (3,600lbs each) five roof supply fans (600lbs each) and 13 heat pumps (550lbs each) on the rooftop of a new construction manufacturing facility. They knocked out the seemingly daunting task within two hours with the help of CHI Aviation’s versatile S-61N heavy lift helicopter. The helicopter lift was capable of hauling loads up to 10,000 lbs, CHI Aviation’s 4-man crew worked with Southern Air ground and rooftop crews to set the units in safe, quick succession.

“Setting units with a helicopter lift is very exciting but it’s also very dangerous and very fast paced,” says David Creasy, Southern Air Safety Coordinator. “As the roof monitor, I made sure everyone remained aware and away from the building’s edges and holes where equipment was being set. I was in the sheet metal trade for 30 years before moving over to career in safety. On this project, I got to be a part of both! This was the third time in my career I was part of a helicopter lift. It’s an awesome experience.”

Southern Air’s 13-man crew arrived on site before 7am on a Saturday morning, many who made a multi-hour drive to the remote location. The planning remained extensive and fluid leading all the way up to Saturday morning, with small changes made up to the last minute. Our teams did a marvelous job cleaning the job site, securing equipment and utilizing additional personal protective equipment to avoid injury and damage from the helicopter’s rotor wash.

“This was a first for me, and it was exhilarating experience,” says Sam Kappler, Southern Air Mechanical Project Manager. “The time it took for the helicopter to lift the equipment and put it in place was incredible and with a helicopter 100 feet above you, it’s truly all hands on deck to set the units correctly. There was no room for error and our teams did an excellent job. I couldn’t be prouder of our guys for how safely and quickly they set 33 units in two hours.”

While a heavy lift like this was an exciting first for Kappler, for others, it wasn’t that big of a deal.

Southern Air HVAC foreman, Josh Farmer simply smirked.

“Just another day on the job.”

Pretty cool job!