Around the globe, many different types of helicopters are used for heli-skiing. In the Far East, you might find a Russian built Mi-8 helicopter, a beast capable of carrying 22 skiers. In Europe, the most common machines are the Eurocopter AS350 B2 and B3 ‘Squirrel’, both small single-engine helicopters capable of carrying 4-5 skiers. (In North America, the AS350 is known as the A-Star).
In BC, the most common machines used are the Bell 212 and Bell 205, both medium-sized helicopters capable of carrying 11 skiers. Most ‘small-group’ heli ski outfitters opt for the The Bell 407 and A-Star, both ‘small’ choppers, with room for 4 skiers in the back.
While these might be the most commonly used machines in the sport, in our opinion, one stands above the rest.
Get to know our Koala Helicopters- the ‘Ferrari’ of Heli Skiing Choppers
There are many reasons why we stand above others when it comes to offering the best experience for our guests. Our guests often notice the quality of food & service, how DEEP our powder is, and the amazing tree & high alpine terrain we offer. But there is one element that is often overlooked by guests- and that is how amazing our Koala Helicopters are. While other operations offer many different types of 4,5 & 10 passenger helicopters, no one can match the speed, power, comfort and overall experience of our 6-pax Italian designed Koalas. In our ‘Classic’ Package at Yellow Cedar Lodge- we fly a maximum of 3 groups of 6 and still fit in 6 guests, a guide, and a pilot very comfortably. And in our ‘Elite’ program with Accommodations at our Mountain Lodge- we only ski in two groups of 5. So no tight squeezes here. Everyone can fit into our Elite groups with plenty of extra leg, shoulder and arm room. Here is all you need to know about your sweet ride in the mountains.
The AW119 Koala is a single-engine multirole helicopter. AgustaWestland, the original manufacturer (the Koala is now manufactured by Leonardo) promotes the model as possessing excellent flight qualities with high levels of controllability, manoeuvrability and inherent safety, exactly the type of machine you want for flying in the vast Skeena Mountain Range around our lodges. The Koala employs a four-bladed fully articulated main rotor; the composite rotor blades are designed to produce maximum lift with minimum noise, and feature tip caps to reduce noise and elastomeric bearings with no lubrication requirements. Aluminium honeycomb structural panels are used throughout the airframe, which absorb both noise and vibration, thus requiring no additional vibration absorption systems to be employed. All this equals a pretty quiet ride for our guests.
Also to note, the outstanding technology and safety features. The machine offers excellent flying qualities and best-in-class levels of safety typical of light single-engine category helicopters. As you know, weather out in the field can change not only day to day, but hour to hour or even minute to minute. Our skilled pilots with their years of flying fire, forestry and heliskiing missions really appreciate flying such an incredible helicopter.
Exceptional cabin flexibility can also be found in the Koala. With its spacious, comfortable and elegantly designed cabin, tailored to unique customer specifications, it offers more room than any other single-engine helicopter.
Did you know? The Koala has been used for various roles, including utility, emergency medical services (EMS), offshore, law enforcement, and executive transport. And the machine is used by many countries such as the US, Israel, India, Mexico and others for both military and offshore rescue use. We are proud to be one of the few heli ski operations in Canada to use these incredible machines, and truly believe it’s one more reason why our overall heli skiing experience can’t be matched by our competitors. So next time you are out with us flying in the mountains, take a minute to appreciate the “Ferrari” of helicopters!
- Crew: 1-2
- Capacity: 6-7 passengers or 1,400 kg (3,086 lb) sling load
- Length: 12.92 m (42 ft 5 in)
- Height: 3.60 m (11 ft 10 in)
- Empty weight: 1,483 kg (3,269 lb)
- Max takeoff weight: 2,850 kg (6,283 lb)
- Fuel capacity:
3-cell fuel system 605 l (160 US gal)
4-cell fuel system 711 l (188 US gal)
5-cell fuel system 870 l (230 US gal)
- Powerplant: 1 × Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6B-37A turboshaft engine, 747 kW (1,002 hp)
- Main rotor diameter: 10.83 m (35 ft 6 in)
- Main rotor area: 92.1 m2 (991 sq ft)
- Cruise speed: 244 km/h (152 mph, 132 kn)
- Never exceed speed: 282 km/h (175 mph, 152 kn)
- Range: 954 km (593 mi, 515 nmi)
- Endurance: 5 h 20 min
- Service ceiling: 4,572 m (15,000 ft)
- Rate of climb: 9.1 m/s (1,790 ft/min)
*Data from AgustaWestland AW119Kx brochure
A Premium Small Group Heli Skiing Experience
Since 2004 Northern Escape Heli Skiing has operated small group heli skiing in Northern BC’s Skeena Mountains, near Terrace, BC. Our boutique heli experience, new Mountain Lodge, snowcat skiing backup and big mountain, deep powder skiing attracts riders from around the world. Our lodges are easily accessed from Vancouver via Terrace Airport. For more information, see our Guide to Heli Skiing in BC, contact us or visit our booking page.