Airbus Helicopters hoist training. Photo courtesy of Airbus
Flying to and from and around wind farms can require specific skills for helicopter pilots and wind turbine technicians. Consequently, both groups must undergo specific training.
In 2009, helicopter operator HTM, in collaboration with Deutsche Offshore-Testfeld un Infrastruktur GmbH & Co. KG, a German offshore test field and infrastructure company, implemented standards for general training of helicopter hoist passengers, typically technicians servicing the turbines.
The one-day training session is split into multiple parts: a theoretical segment on basic helicopter operations, hoist operations in easy terrain and hoist cycles to an elevated training tower.
The wind tower was designed and built in partnership by several companies, including Stadtwerke Emden, WEST GmbH and HTM.
Heli-Service provides technicians to undergo a one-day, in-house training course that consists of helicopter familiarization training, followed by 15 hoisting cycles for each passenger/technician on a field near company headquarters.
Tonex Technology and Management Training, a leading provider of training courses and seminars, offer a two-day wind farm-training course. The overall goal of the training is to help students understand the technology and operations of wind farms, including turbine and blade technology. The course is open to everyone, but is geared mainly toward wind farm test engineers and service technicians.
FlightSafety International, a leading training solutions solutions provider, doesn’t offer offshore wind farm training for pilots. However, the company has incorporated an offshore wind farm into its visuals and programmed its simulators to react to being in proximity to the wind turbines.
Heli-Service International GmbH, a German helicopter operator, derives 85 percent of its business from the offshore wind industry with a fleet of primarily Leonardo rotorcraft, according to Oliver Freiland, managing partner with the company. Hoisting operations remain the company’s main growth area. Heli-Service transports passengers and freight to several offshore wind farms in the German, Danish and Dutch North Sea.
“Helicopters are an integral part of a modern wind park logistics concept,” Freiland said. “The advantages of a helicopter for the support of a wind park lie in its very high flexibility, short travel time and little dependency on weather conditions.”
Yet with every fledgling industry, there are challenges, such as a lack of standard operating procedures for offshore wind operations. “Wind park operators are still experimenting, and there is still no standard logistics concept for wind parks,” he added.