Older Chinook helicopters auctioned to commercial buyers

By Sofia BledsoeJune 5, 2014

Older Chinook helicopters auctioned to commercial buyers
Standing beside one of the three remaining CH-47D Chinooks that were recently auctioned to commercial buyers are, from left, Lt. Col. Joseph Hoecherl, product manager for CH-47 Modernization; Col. Rob Barrie, Cargo Helicopters project manager; and Ma... (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

FORT BELVOIR, Va. (June 4, 2014) -- The Army completed the sale in April, of the first 10 CH-47D Chinook helicopters that were auctioned through the General Services Administration website.

The auction for the first two CH-47D aircraft began in December. The Cargo Helicopters Project Office was working on divesting some of the older D model aircraft and discovered that the GSA had an established program that specializes in aircraft sales and determined that this option was the most beneficial for the Army and taxpayers.

"We're producing and fielding F model Chinook helicopters, and as we do that, we're looking for options to create value back to the government with these D models," Cargo Helicopters project manager Col. Rob Barrie said. "They've provided great service to our country over the years, and now we're looking for the best way to either demilitarize them, sell them or recapitalize them back into our production. This provides us the opportunity to really bring value back to the government by selling them through a commercial operator."

Barrie said the sale through GSA generates efficiencies and cost savings in several ways. It brings money back to the government that the Army can use to offset programmatic costs and avoids demilitarization costs. "We are avoiding the cost of approximately $250,000 per aircraft that the government would have acquired to demil the aircraft," Barrie said.

Funds from the sale -- more than $28 million to date -- are also being reinvested to buy new CH-47F Chinooks.

Additionally, it allows the Army to have more Chinook operators in the worldwide fleet.

"This helps to reduce the cost of parts for all of us," Barrie said.

Ten CH-47D helicopters were sold to three different companies between December and April. The companies include Billings Flying Service from Billings, Mont.; Columbia Helicopters from Portland, Ore.; and CHI Aviation from Howell, Mich.

Sales prices ranged from $2 million to a little more than $3.5 million. All sales are aircraft condition dependent, and all of the CH-47D aircraft on auction were sold "as is" and "where is." The aircraft had been parked at the Madison County Executive Airport for the past six months.

"It is the ultimate in recycling," said Lt. Col. Joseph Hoecherl, product manager for CH-47 Chinook modernization. "Re-purposing the aircraft in this manner provides business opportunities for both the government and the commercial buyer."

Gary Blain from Billing Flying Service noted earlier this year that purchasing the CH-47Ds meant 20 more jobs in his area.

"Each of the aircraft we bought will support 20 families from the jobs ranging from pilots to maintenance and other support. And that doesn't include the jobs that result from what they buy from other suppliers to support the aircraft," Blain said.

Commercial uses for the aircraft include search and rescue, firefighting, logging, seismic exploration, offshore transport, heavy cargo, construction, and installation and repair of power lines and poles.

"We've sold to various commercial operators, and we're very excited about having some new and some old faces into the Chinook commercial operations," Barrie said.

"There is love in each one of these aircraft," he continued. "You see it in the replacement parts that are all around each of the aircraft and in the seats where crews have flown this aircraft for the last 20 years. We welcome new operators into our Chinook fleet."

The Army has been authorized to sell up to 20 D model Chinooks this year that would have otherwise been demilitarized. The next auction for two aircraft begins Thursday out of Summit Aviation in Delaware.

For more information regarding the CH-47D Chinooks on auction, visit the GSA auction website at gsaauctions.gov.

Related Links:

GSA auction website

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