Columbia Helicopters Delivers Two CH-47D Chinooks to Rotak Helicopter Services

Aurora, Oregon: July 5, 2022 – Heavy-lift helicopter pioneer Columbia Helicopters is pleased to announce that it has sold two Columbia CH-47D Chinook helicopters to ROTAK Helicopter Services of Anchorage, Alaska. The helicopters include Columbia’s Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) safety modifications, as well as firefighting and external load modifications. As a part of the sale, Columbia will also provide full lifecycle sustainment and airworthiness and technical publication services for the aircraft. 

“ROTAK is an exceptional external load and utility helicopter operator performing heavy-lift work in some of the most remote and inhospitable locations on earth,” said Mike Tremlett, Columbia’s Executive Vice President. “The Columbia CH-47D Chinook helicopter is an ideal addition to their fleet, providing them with increased lifting power, range, and capability to fight fires, perform vertical construction, and support a variety of other projects requiring unparalleled muscle and lifting power.”

“We are honored to be the first company to purchase a tandem helicopter from Columbia, adding these aircraft to our fleet and expanding our relationship with Columbia is a major milestone for the future of our operations,” said Ely Woods, ROTAK’s Founder and General Manager. “Columbia Helicopters pioneered the application of Chinook capabilities in the world of commercial heavy-lift and has evolved to become a proven and trusted provider of the critical manufacturing, maintenance and materials support that ROTAK will rely on into the future.”   

Columbia Helicopters holds the FAA Type Certificate for the CH-47D, with the capability to modify and overhaul the aircraft. Columbia designs and incorporates its own proprietary modifications for the CH-47D, developed through decades of commercial tandem rotor helicopter operational experience, and as the OEM of the Model 234 Chinook and Model 107-II Vertol helicopters. Columbia’s worldwide MRO services and support spans 50 years of maintaining, overhauling, and updating this aircraft type, both in the company’s FAA-approved Part 145 Repair Station and in the field.

A heavy-lift utility helicopter operator, ROTAK Helicopter Services specializes in transmission line and tower construction and repair. Since its founding supporting telecom customers in rugged Alaska, the company has expanded its services to include heli-logging, crew transport, mining support, and firefighting across the United States. The new Columbia aircraft joining its fleet will be used primarily for firefighting operations and super-heavy-lift long-line operations.

The two CH-47D Chinook helicopters are former U.S. Army aircraft. Both helicopters underwent phase inspections and were upgraded by Columbia. ROTAK selected from a menu of services for the aircraft’s completion and support including:

  • A variety of Columbia-designed modifications and upgrades to reduce weight and increase the helicopters’ capabilities and efficiency in performing firefighting and long-line operations
  • Columbia’s proprietary system to operate the SEI PowerFill Bambi Bucket, which is required equipment to support U.S. Forest Service and CAL FIRE contracts for firefighting
  • Avionics to improve situational awareness of other aircraft and terrain 
  • Columbia’s proprietary bubble window design to facilitate direct visual operational control, reconfigured the cockpit to improve pilot effectiveness and control and removed the third crewmember station to reduce weight – all to support effective long-line operations
  • Columbia’s own in-house design modifications to the overall aircraft to improve reliability and maximize availability
  • Full flight and maintenance training for pilots and mechanics 
  • Multiple-year post-sale contracts for maintenance services and phase inspections, technical and AOG services, component sparing and support, and ongoing pilot training

Columbia Helicopters is the global leader in heavy-lift helicopter operations and a trusted expert in maintenance, repair, and overhaul services. Backed by over 60 years of experience, Columbia operates internationally, often conducting operations in remote, austere conditions, providing safe and reliable aircraft and qualified personnel that meet demanding global transport requirements. Columbia leverages it position as the OEM for the Model 234 Chinook and 107-II Vertol, and the FAA Type Certificate holder of the CH-47D Chinook, to provide responsive modifications, lifecycle support, and MRO services trusted worldwide by a diverse customer base. For more information, please visit

Ryan Mason
Ryan Mason
Ryan is an accomplished writer and aerial photographer that has worked in the aviation industry for over a decade before co-founding AerialFire Magazine. Originally from Melbourne, Australia, Ryan is a former police officer that focuses his writing and photography efforts on para-public operations and agricultural aviation.

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