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17 June 2021

Verlinde hoists propelled to another level for helicopter maintenance

Verlinde has partnered with Handel Sollevamenti in Italy to install its hoists for carrying out maintenance on Elifriulia helicopter fleet.

Handel Sollevamenti designs, constructs and installs overhead cranes, jib cranes, and suspended plant, sling bars, and needed Verlinde to design a structure to comply with strict dimensional limits due to the configuration of the Elifriulia maintenance site, but at the same time ensure operators could work safely, according to the activities carried out on the helicopters.

“We provide helicopter services for private individuals, large companies and public authorities, operating in an extremely demanding and competitive market that requires vehicles that are always perfectly efficient and maintained according to the strictest international standards,” said Claudio Girardi, maintenance manager, Elifriulia.

“We turned to Handel Sollevamenti to help us optimise the handling procedures related to our helicopter maintenance activities, in particular, the replacement of engines, which are located in the upper part of the aircraft below the blades. We were specifically interested in creating a structure where we did not have to dismantle the engines to carry out some of the more recurrent maintenance activities.”

The structure was built using a box girder with S355J2 sheet metal, consisting of two fixed upper heads and two lower heads for the motorisation housings, linked together by two diagonal legs and bracing made of tubular.

Absolute precision was necessary due to the fact the entrance to the smaller hangar dedicated to helicopter maintenance is only 40cm wider than the diameter of the blades. Also, the height of the door is only slightly higher than the maximum height of the helicopter, which meant reliability of the movements of the structure and the lifting system were essential for the success of the project.

“The guiding principle of our company has always been to create solutions with attention to every detail and tailored to the individual needs of each of our customers. In this specific case, after a careful inspection and analysis of the requirements in collaboration with Elifriulia technicians, we opted for a gantry crane on steerable wheels equipped with eight motors: four dedicated to rotation/steering and another four dedicated to moving the structure from one hangar to another,” said Federico Alcido, area manager, Handel Sollevamenti.

“For the lifting unit, we used a Eurobloc VT model Verlinde electric wire rope hoist with a capacity of 3200kg. We chose it for its reliability and for the lifting speed, which had to be minimal to avoid any kind of handling error during any of the helicopter maintenance activities.”

The entire structure is radio-controlled to make it easier for the operators to manoeuvre it, through a series of PLCs that use drives and encoders on the motors to guarantee extreme precision when steering each of the movements.

“The facility built by Handel Sollevamenti has met our expectations perfectly, facilitating our maintenance work to offer our customers a fleet of helicopters with the highest levels of efficiency. We also greatly appreciated Handel’s expertise not only in customising the structure but also in choosing all the components of a proven quality and reliability, of which the Verlinde hoist is an excellent example,” added Girardi.

Founded in 1971, Elifriulia helicopter service company is one of the top five helicopter operators in Italy. Since 1992, it has been a reference point in Friuli Venezia Giulia for its helicopter service, as well as its use in search and rescue operations in hostile environments and in preventing and fighting forest fires.