In our Aug/Sept issue, Rob Erdos muses on float flying and we discuss night aerial firefighting. Plus: Air Canada in the pandemic, KF Aerospace at 50 and Canadians in the Battle of Britain.
As of Jan. 1, 2019 Blackcomb Helicopters became the first full-service helicopter operator in the world to offset 100 per cent of its carbon footprint. Initiating the transition in 2018 by first offsetting its growing tourism program, this operator of 22 aircraft and six base locations has now offset the entirety of the business including employee commutes, facility emissions, waste, and fuel-burn.
Blackcomb Helicopters (BH), a McLean Group company, is a civil and utility services provider in southwestern British Columbia, and nationwide as required. BH is known for its safety record and operational expertise in support of local search and rescue organizations, wildfire suppression agencies, medical evacuations, avalanche control, the construction and maintenance of utility infrastructure such as hydro-electric power, and resource development such as forestry and mining. These helicopters are an essential mountain access tool for the rugged terrain of Western Canada.
“In my 40 years in the industry, burning jet fuel has been a constant and there are really no near-term alternatives to gas turbines for the missions expected of us,” commented John Morris, general manager and director. “We could not have taken this step without the strong support of our customers, staff, and stakeholders who recognize the value in confronting carbon emissions proactively and we are grateful for their support.”
Through a significant contribution to a forest conservation project on Quadra Island, as well as local green tech and travel initiatives, BH is offsetting its carbon footprint through the sequestration of greenhouse gases by preserving forests, encouraging greener travel for commuters, and incorporating energy savings and lower emissions in new building design.
“Building on our experience with Vancouver Film Studios becoming the first carbon neutral film studio in Canada almost 12 years ago, we knew that a carbon reduction and offsetting program was consistent with Blackcomb’s culture,” said Jason McLean, CEO of McLean Group. “Climate change is one of the defining challenges of our time and we can’t simply leave it to regulators to fix things for us. Businesses also need to adapt and help lead the transition to a lower carbon economy.”
BH began these efforts with its tourism business in 2018 to test the program and meet customer demand for carbon offsetting with “elective” travel. In order to maintain a strong year-round business, BH also provides consumer-focused tourism through partnerships with heli-skiing and ski touring operations in the winter and sightseeing tours and guided adventures in the summer. BH is also the exclusive helicopter provider for Whistler-Blackcomb Resort, including Whistler Heliskiing, providing medevac, heliskiing, construction, and mountain operations assistance. With significant land tenure in the Sea-to-Sky region and a long track record of responsible operations in the back country, the implementation of a carbon neutral strategy was well received and prompted the expansion to company wide operations in 2019.