Helicopter logging, or heli-logging, is a fast and efficient method of harvesting timber. It provides access to difficult and remote sites that would otherwise be uneconomical or inaccessible. It can eliminate or reduce expensive road construction and associated environmental risks on steep and challenging terrain. However, heli-logging is very expensive compared to other extraction methods and requires extensive planning by experienced and knowledgeable forest engineers to be successful. FPInnovations has developed a heli-logging cost and productivity tool to help planners design successful operations.
Accurate and current cost and productivity data can be difficult to obtain. The FPInnovations helicopter logging tool provides up-to-date cost and productivity information on a variety of helicopter models commonly used for heli-logging in British Columbia. The tool was developed in cooperation with the U.S. Forest Service who provided access to its heli-logging model which is based on many years of data. The U.S. information was converted to metric units and supplemented with updated data, reflecting current values, from FPInnovations’ helicopter research program in British Columbia. The tool was tested and refined in cooperation with Interfor Corporation and cost estimates were verified to be accurate.
The tool allows a planner to select multiple blocks and multiple landing sites when planning a heli-logging operation. Up to 50 blocks and 20 landing sites can be considered when planning a project. Ground coordinates for each block and each landing site are used to calculate flight times and payloads considering changes in elevation, optimal flight paths, and cruise data. The planner is able to mix and match blocks to develop the optimal logging plan. In heli-logging, small changes can have big effects on operations. The tool helps planners maximize returns by allowing them to test the effects of changes before finalizing the plan.
This tool will make it much easier for planners with limited heli-logging experience to successfully implement projects. It will benefit the industry by reducing planning time and costs, providing more accurate cost estimates, and helping planners make better decisions about where and what to heli-log. It will also reduce logging costs through better planning and by providing companies with the information that they need to get the best rates.