The mining industry is increasingly seeking the specialist local knowledge of ‘bush pilots’ in its quest to find the most efficient helicopter solutions.
In recent years managers of remote mining operations have turned to aerial services to reap the benefit of safety, cost and production efficiencies for surveying and personnel transportation projects.
Innovators in helicopter safety MI Helicopters have seen a marked increase in the number of operators seeking the extra value offered by pilots trained in the refined art of bush flying.
MI Helicopters Director and Chief Pilot Kevin Clark said it was hard to measure the value the bush pilots were adding to their clients’ operations.
"These pilots have spent decades training and flying missions across the Queensland bush.
"They know the land better than anyone else," Kevin said.
"Plus there is a premium level of skill involved in navigation, flight and off airport landing in remote areas of Australia that coastal and city trained pilots just cannot match."
Hailing from cattle country around Taroom, Kevin Clark learned the art of bush flying working on Cattle properties. He recognised the value his skills offered to the mining industry in the earliest stages of establishing MI Helicopters.
"Bush pilots have excellent low level flying skills. Plus, they understand that their knowledge of the Australian landscape could be invaluable in particular to surveying projects for mining and energy operators.
"Since then I have built a team of highly trained and skilled pilots. Just recently I added two new pilots to the team, both with bush flying experience," Kevin said.
"We match our pilots to our clients’ individual needs.
"In many cases clients build a relationship with a certain pilot who has intricate knowledge of the landscape the client’s project is located on and continue working with that pilot on numerous projects in the future."
MI Helicopters has built a strong partnership with mining and energy clients, including the Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries, Santos, Epic Energy, Jemena, Ergon Energy and Origin Energy thanks to not only its focus on bush flying, but also its innovation in helicopter safety.
"The mining industry’s focus on safety extends to their suppliers, however not every helicopter supplier is equal in terms of the safety features they provide.
"In addition to being accredited with all standard Safety Management Systems MI Helicopters leads the industry in safety innovation," Kevin said.
"MI Helicopters was the test subject of two ingenious safety innovations that are now available to the Australian market.
The United States based Instrument Cooperation worked closely with MI Helicopters to trial the Safe-Flight Powerline Detection System.
The system offers genuine benefits to mining operators who regularly use helicopters for low flying surveillance operations. It protects the crew and any passengers against the risk of powerlines with a visual and audio cue.
MI Helicopters was one of the first companies in Australia to trial Satellite Aircraft Tracking. An innovation of New Zealand based firm Spider Tracks, the tracking system offers mining operators and the helicopter crew total peace of mind.
The Satellite Aircraft Tracking system sends the exact location of the aircraft to MI Helicopters via the internet. MI Helicopters is still one of only a few operators across Australia that has the innovative safety system fitted to all aircraft.
"The safety of our crew and passengers has always been absolutely paramount. This is a value we share with the mining industry.
"Whether we are delivering detailed maps or imagery, surveying mines or pipelines or offering cost effective personnel transportation, we give our clients the confidence of knowing exactly where we are at any given moment," Kevin said.
"That is why MI Helicopters has always focused on being a national innovator in safety. And we will continue to be at the cutting edge, giving our clients the safest helicopter solutions."
In addition to offering a higher level of safety MI Helicopters is also renowned for offering clients all-inclusive aerial solutions, including fully equipped mobile re-fuelling vehicles, which the company delivers through personalised service.
"I believe that the mining industry is only going to rely on aerial specialists like MI Helicopters more and more in the future.
"With the constant improvement of safety standards and visual equipment that provides clearer imagery, mapping and GPS reporting, helicopter solutions will continue to offer the mining industry better, safer and more cost effective solutions to reporting and transportation."
Established in 1993 MI Helicopters offers a wide range of customised lifting, patrol, surveying, filming, inspection and emergency helicopter solutions. MI Helicopters are true specialists in the field of aerial solutions for the mining industry.