A look at an HAI member up close and personal.
Direct Helicopter International is a helicopter shipping company on a mission. CEO Dave Urban built the air-, ocean-, and ground-enabled company, based in Port Dover, Ontario, Canada, to allow helicopter operators to focus on their own businesses by reducing time spent on shipping-related logistics, time, and costs.
The only company in the world specializing in helicopter shipping, Direct Helicopter provides a full turnkey, hangar-to-hangar service for customers seeking to ship helicopters across the country or around the globe. With one call, customers can request full-service shipping or any step of the process, from aircraft disassembly and prep to freight documentation to insurance, customs, and import/export documentation to reassembly anywhere worldwide. The company uses oversized air ride trucks, train cars, ocean vessels, and cargo aircraft to transport helicopters.
“Since COVID hit, our door-to-door business has really increased,” Urban says. In some cases amid the pandemic, customers haven’t had enough shipping personnel to handle all the necessary logistics, he explains; in others, it’s been hard to coordinate with the various entities involved in the shipping process while people are working from home or not answering phones.
“There’s also a need for more international shipping alternatives with ocean shipping becoming so backlogged,” adds Urban. “Since we can handle all the work ourselves, and we act as the importer–exporter on record, we can save our customers a lot of time and money.”
Its Own Company
Direct Helicopter isn’t owned by a freight forwarder; rather, the company operates seven of its own shipping offices around the globe and works with 65 companies under corporate partnership to ensure smooth, controlled operations. It also operates a fleet of Boeing 747 jets with cargo capabilities specifically designed for shipping helicopters. The fleet, recently sold to a large oceanic shipping company that remains a partner of Direct Helicopter, is now expanding in number and destinations served, further increasing Direct Helicopter’s service capabilities. The fleet of aircraft has enabled the company to provide swifter, less expensive services compared with commercial air shipping, especially in today’s climate of skyrocketing shipping costs, Urban says.
Direct Helicopter maintains load plans, tooling, and specifications for assembling and disassembling all helicopter types. It also specializes in providing country-specific importation solutions, managing foreign customs, avoiding local VAT (value-added tax) procedures, acting as importer of record, and re-exporting on-the-job helicopters.
In addition to helicopter shipping, Direct Helicopter provides 24-hour AOG (aircraft on ground) spare-parts and airfreight-parts shipping, including express customs clearance, anywhere in the world.