Houston Pilots Add Helicopter Transport Exercises to 2020 Hurricane Season Prep
Thursday, July 23, 2020
When a major storm is headed to the port region, the Houston Pilots (“Pilots”) frequently rely on helicopter transport for their pilots between Galveston and Houston docks. Helicopter transportation enables the Pilots to increase the efficient evacuation of ships from the port at a time when vessel traffic is one way only. This can be especially important when surface roads are jammed with traffic or other delays.
Several terminals in the port region have designated helicopter landing areas on the property that support the Houston Pilots’ hurricane helicopter operations. Participating terminals include the Port of Houston Authority (Turning Basin, Barbours Cut, and Bayport terminals), Kinder Morgan, Targa, Shell, Enterprise, Energy Transfer Houston Terminal (formerly HFOTCO), Exxonmobil Baytown, and the Galveston UTMB helicopter pad (adjacent to the Pilot Boat station).
With the support of their terminal partners, the Houston Pilots are currently practicing helicopter transport measure by moving pilots during the course of their regular work. The aircraft utilized is a MD902 Explorer, configured for 6 passengers in addition to the helicopter pilot and flight crew. The aircraft is owned/operated by Brim Aviation. Brim Aviation is a utility helicopter organization serving both U.S. and international clients with a wide variety of services that include Search and Rescue, Short Haul, Hoist Operations, Airborne Law Enforcement, Fire Suppression and many other helicopter-based missions.
This exercise will familiarize all Houston Pilots with pre-flight helicopter safety, helicopter capabilities and limitations, and facilitate the development of landing authorization protocols with landing area owners. It will also fine tune Houston Pilots Dispatch’s ability to manage helicopter flight operations, including notifications to landing area site personnel and helicopter check-in and communications procedures.