The Swedish Defence and Security Export Agency (FXM) has recently sold ten retired HKP 4s to the large American operator Columbia Helicopters Inc (CHI). The agreement was settled in December 2012 and the deliveries were started this month.
The aircraft, which includes six Boeing Vertol 107-II and four Kawasaki Vertol 107-II helicopters, will join the Columbias’ fleet of heavy-lift helicopters working around the world. The airframes that have been purchased are: 04061, 04063, 04065, 04067, 04068,04071, 04073, 04074, 04075 and 04076. The deal also includes a stock of spare parts.
“We are excited to have these helicopters joining our fleet,” said Stan Wilson, President of Columbia Helicopters. “The Swedish military took very good care of these aircraft, and we look forward to putting them into operational status as soon as possible.”
Columbia’s crews have disassembled and shipped the first three helicopters from Linköping, with the remaining seven aircraft arriving in the United States from Ronneby later this year. The first helicopters are scheduled to arrive at the Port of Tacoma in March. The company will reassemble and refurbish the helicopters, introducing them into their active fleet as quickly as business needs require them.
“The Vertol 107-II is the backbone of Columbia’s fleet,” added Wilson. “We use them for military support, logging, fighting fires, construction projects and on petroleum exploration projects around the world.”
Columbia Helicopters is the world’s only commercial operator of these tandem-rotor aircraft. The company has its main office in Aurora, Oregon, United States, but operates in various parts of the world, including Canada (through Helifor), Alaska, Papua New Guinea and Peru. It operates the largest fleet of privately held, heavy-lift helicopters in the world, and is the global leader in commercial heavy-lift helicopter operations. The company also operates the Columbia Model 234 Chinook heavy-lift helicopter. In 1991 CHI bought four of the Swedish Air Force’s retired HKP 4As (04452, 04454, 04456 and 04457). Two of them are still flying today.
The Swedish Air Force and the Swedish Navy purchased the first of these Boeing-Vertol 107s back in 1963. The Air Force operated its 10 Vertol 107s as rescue helicopters until they were replaced by Super Pumas in early 1992. The Navy’s fleet of HKP 4s was eventually expanded with a batch of younger Kawasaki-Vertol 107s (delivered 1972-1978), and four of the Air Force’s retired HKP 4As (1988-1991). At the end, the Navy had a total of 14 Vertol 107s. These were eventually included in the joint “Swedish Armed Forces Helicopter Wing“.
Sweden’s Secretary of Defense, Sten Tolgfors, announced the retirement of the Vertol 107s on 9 April 2010. The last flight of a HKP 4 in the Swedish Armed Forces took place on 1 March 2011, as Y-70 (04070) was flown from Ronneby to Gothenburg and donated to the Aeroseum Aviation Museum. The museum is planning to keep the helicopter in an airworthy condition for display purposes.
A total of four HKP 4s are exhibited at museums right now. Y-70 and Y-72 (04072) at Aeroseum in Gothenburg, Y-64 (04064) at the Air Force Museum in Linköping and 04451 at the F21 Kallax Air Force Base Museum in Luleå. A fifth helicopter, Y-69 (04069), will be kept for the future as well.
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