1) How did you use Blue Sky Network’s products in your operations? Which product did you use?
As the pilot of a Bell 429 operated by a large coal mining company, the helicopter supported a mission to fly executives to mines on a daily basis to review each mine’s progress. Typically, we took off at 7am five days a week and visited three or four mines in a day, arriving home around 5pm. While at each location, local management used the helicopter for aerial survey of their property. Our Blue Sky Network product was the Hawk Eye Personal Tracker.
2) Did BSN products solve any obstacles or problems that you were having in your operations? How so?
The top management of the world’s second largest coal company would ride the helicopter into the mountainous terrain of Appalachia where there was little to no VHF or cellular reception. This meant that during the flights, no one knew of the aircraft’s location or condition of the key management executives. The HEPT solved this problem by allowing the Helicopter Dispatcher to monitor our exact real-time position. Rapidly changing weather conditions in the mountains resulted in unplanned landings at sites unknown to any other company personal. With the HEPT, the Dispatcher could pinpoint our location and even communicate with the helicopter to confirm status and amended plans.
3) Why did you choose Blue Sky Network over other options?
We selected the Blue Sky Network HEPT after researching similar available products for cost, capability and reliability. Purchase price was low. Monthly service cost was adjustable to suit our needs. The extensive communication capability was a plus beyond the tracking function. On the very rare occasion we needed to talk to Blue Sky Network, knowledgeable people were immediately available.
4) What do you think are the benefits of using these systems in aviation operations?
Safety was paramount. Should an unplanned landing occur that put passengers or crew at risk, or in need, help could be dispatched immediately. Secondarily, en-route changes could be tracked and the proper ground personal notified of these changes. Better coordination and utilization of the aircraft resulted from company personnel regularly communicating with the Dispatcher for updated helicopter position and schedule.
5) What features do you like or use the most?
The HEPT device best suited our operation. Purchase price was low. Portability was useful. Communication was critical. At first, our executives did not like the idea of someone watching where they were going. However, quickly they appreciated the fact that they were being protected at all times.
6) How do you feel about Blue Sky Network customer service and support?
Customer service and support were relatively unknown at the time we decided to use Blue Sky Network. Only limited customer feedback was available at that time. However, in talking with Blue Sky representatives, they had all of the right answers to our questions. As it turned out, the service and support were excellent.
7) Would you recommend our products? If so, why?
I would highly recommend Blue Sky Network. Other helicopter operations in Appalachia were using different helicopter tracking solutions and most were not satisfied with the overall results. It was a good decision for us. All company personal from the CEO to the pilot were happy with the decision to use Blue Sky Network.