The National, Tuesday 22nd November 2011
A MORE advanced and secure technology that easily moves bulky cargo in the rough and rugged terrain like PNG has arrived and begun working on lifting pipes into lay-down areas in the Gulf and Southern Highlands provinces.
The PNG LNG project’s contractors had brought in American-built air-cranes to move pipes from the sea port at Kopi to inland areas.
The land-based segment of pipe-laying was completed over two weeks ago with the help of the air crane helicopters.
The job has now shifted to the offshore segment of the pipeline.
The aircraft were ordered in from Erikson Air-Crane in Oregon, USA.
There are two models of Air-crane, the S64-E and the S64-F, with the F being the larger of the two.
They can lift up to nine and 11 tonnes respectively.
The S-64E had a maximum range of 453km while the S-64F can travel 444km before having to refuel.
More importantly, however, these aircraft can position their loads extremely precisely, according to the PNG Report magazine.
They had been used, for example, to put a flare tip in place – not an easy undertaking by any means.
This precision comes from the fact that the cranes come with a “loadmaster” position.
The person in this position had some slight control of the aircraft’s positioning.
They were able to make the fine adjustments necessary to put the load exactly where it needed to go.
Erickson Air-crane business operations manager Tim Stinson said a load could be placed “within centimetres” of the target.
“The fact that we can put a flare tip in place gives you an idea of the tolerances,” he said.
Stinson said the company was keen to break into the PNG market.
It has dealt with similar terrain in Peru.
Indeed, the Air-crane – in this instance the client opted for an F model – was chosen for environmental concerns.
“Besides environmental access concerns, using one of these (Aircranes) can help minimise an operation’s environmental footprint.”
The company also had developed a vacuum lift system that it had applied to moving various pieces of equipment, including sections of pipeline.
The benefit of this system is safety. It removes the need for a rigger to help fit lifting apparatus around whatever has to be moved.
All that was needed was for the helicopter to hover over its load.
The vacuum system was deployed and simply stayed to whatever had to be shifted.
It was strong enough to hold the load for the duration of the flight.
The Air-crane had been giving good service on a job for Petronas, shifting lengths of pipeline.
Those pipeline pieces weigh in at more than 5.4t.
Stinson said one of the benefits the Air-crane had was its ability to fly up and fly down quickly.
“At one point we held the record for climbing to 10,000ft [3048m],” Stinson said.