View from the cockpit, left to right: Hudson Bay, Canada, the Niger River, Niamey, and Tabubil, Papua New Guinea.
A Lynden Air Cargo crew completed a full circle of the globe in under two weeks in February. "This doesn't often happen in our fleet, but it's a testament to how much of the globe we can cover in a short period with one crew," says Dan Marshall, Charter Manager. "It was no small task with all of the COVID-19 restrictions on top of typical logistical challenges that had to be overcome with each country. It makes this an extra special accomplishment."
Captain James Wallace was joined by Mason Gaines, Jimmie Mizell, Ronald Pine and James Love for the noteworthy flights. The trip began in Kelowna, B.C. after installing external fuel tanks used for longer Trans-Pacific flights. From Kelowna, the crew flew to Maui, HI and from there to Nauru, a tiny country in Micronesia, followed by Brisbane, Australia, to Tabubil, Papua New Guinea (PNG), to Port Moresby, PNG, to Darwin, Australia, to Bali, Indonesia, to Gan, Maldives, to Entebbe, Uganda, to Niamey, Niger, to Las Palmas, Gran Canaries, Spain, to Bangor, Maine, and the crew made its last stop in Anchorage. The "live leg" for the flight was from Brisbane to Tabubil, PNG to transport a critical switchgear to replace one that had shut down the Ok Tedi Gold Mine. The gear was too tall to fit in any other aircraft capable of landing at the remote runway there. The flight gave the Lynden crew the opportunity to swap out an aircraft that was due for a heavy maintenance check in Niamey, Niger.
"Our customer helped us obtain landing permissions on Nauru for a tech stop between Hawaii and Brisbane," Dan explains. "All of our normal airports denied entry due to ongoing COVID-19 restrictions. Captain Wallace and his crew overcame so many hurdles with pandemic restrictions, including hotel lockdowns, to deliver a challenging load to a very remote destination in PNG."
The Lynden flight operations and crew operations teams found unique solutions, always staying ahead of the aircraft with hotels, catering, fuel, and anything else they needed to keep pushing forward. The maintenance team provided the critical external tank installation in less than 24 hours in Kelowna to maintain the initial schedule as close as possible. "This is the first time in recent memory that a single crew has fully circumnavigated the globe with our own aircraft," Dan says. "In addition to the flight crew, our operations and maintenance production teams got all the pieces to fall together to make this trip successful."
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View from the cockpit, left to right: Hudson Bay, Canada, the Niger River, Niamey, and Tabubil, Papua New Guinea.
South Sudan is the newest country in Africa after gaining independence from Sudan in 2011. Since then it has been plagued by civil wars, ethnic violence and unrest. In 2020 the government and opposition forces signed a peace agreement, but the operating environment remains challenging.
Lynden Air Cargo's aircraft N409LC and crew arrived in Juba, South Sudan, last December to fly supplies to Rubkona Airfield near the town of Bentiu where the United Nations' largest refugee camp is located. It was the first time a Lynden Air Cargo aircraft and crew was based in South Sudan and the first time operating into Rubkona for the World Food Programme. Rubkona has very little infrastructure, so the Lynden plane landed on a dirt airstrip with visual flight rules operations only. Over the next three weeks, the crew averaged two flights per day for a total of 25 relief flights. The last flight was completed in January.
In advance of the crew arriving, Lynden Air Cargo Director of Safety Michelle Fabry and Project Manager Corné Steyn flew to Juba to meet with airport officials, vendors and the representatives supporting the World Food Programme. The threat level remains high in the area, so each flight required a security assessment and release prior to takeoff.
"We had contingency plans in place in the event that conflict erupted with pre-determined locations to divert and relocate as necessary and backup communication devices," Michelle explains. "I was most impressed with the positive attitudes, teamwork, and patience displayed by each crew member, even after multiple delays in getting started, COVID restrictions, and anything else that came up. Our team completed the campaign safely, without incident, damage or injury. We truly appreciate their extraordinary efforts."
Lynden Air Cargo's crew included: Captain Warren Woods, First Officer Isaac Ufford, Flight Engineer Chris Allen, Loadmaster Leo Lopez, Mechanic Milton Beaver, Mechanic Tim Buchholz, and Project Manager Corné Steyn. Some members of the crew are pictured above.
Captain Warren Woods had words of praise for his entire crew. "I'm amazed at the team I was allowed to work with, many sharing their vast local knowledge of Africa," he says. "Leo Lopez is not only a Loadmaster; he is a magician. He gets things done with limited resources, and his dedication to getting the job done safely is very important on campaigns like this. He earned the trust and respect of all the customer handlers, aircraft loaders and security personnel at Rubkona."
According to a member of the World Food Programme Aviation Unit in Rome, "The cooperation was brilliant between the two UN agencies and Lynden Air Cargo. World Food Programme is looking forward to future cooperation, as Lynden has proven once again to be a reliable and professional operator."
Rig 26, Doyon Drilling's new extended reach drilling (ERD) rig, completed its 2,400-mile journey from Nisku, Alberta to Alaska's North Slope this past winter. Lynden Transport, Alaska West Express and Lynden Oilfield Services teamed up to haul the 10.5-million-pound rig in pieces from Canada to Deadhorse where it was put back together after more than 320 separate truckloads arrived. Nicknamed "the beast," it is the largest land-based rig in North America and the first ERD rig ever built and moved in North America.
"This was one of the most high-profile projects Lynden has ever done and certainly the largest project that I have been involved in," says Paul Friese, Lynden Transport Vice President of Alaska Sales. "We started talking about this move four years ago, started planning a year ago and began the work in June 2019. In just six months we hauled over 320 loads. Our past work moving Rig 142 for Doyon set a high standard and gave them confidence in the Lynden team to handle this larger project. Many say the future of Alaska rides on the success of this new rig and technology, so we were under intense pressure and scrutiny to make sure the loads were delivered intact and on time for the reassembly in Deadhorse."
Rig 26 will have the capability to directional drill over 35,000 ft. (about 6.3 miles) from a single drilling pad on the North Slope. Doyon Drilling has been working for more than three years to build a larger powerful drilling rig, with increased capabilities greater than any other mobile land-based drilling rig on the continent. The new rig's extended reach can access production zones that were previously inaccessible with current drilling technology and capability.
"We want to thank the Lynden team," says Mike Lasher, Project Manager for Doyon Drilling in Anchorage. "Edmonton's Rick Stark oversaw every shipment loaded in Nisku, and Dan Rychlik helped with pre-planning and shipping requirements. Natasha Earl, Deanna Benson and Darren Stansbury and the Fairbanks team managed loads based on our priorities to ensure we received the right loads in the right sequence."
Rick also served as the Lynden project manager for Rig 142 and was instrumental in providing loading knowledge and experience along with James Delowsky. Rick and James loaded and moved most loads and transported them to the yard for staging and Cratex wrapping.
Lynden's Prudhoe Bay crew received and coordinated loads in Deadhorse around the clock to get the rig pieces where they needed to go, and the Edmonton team stepped up their game for the project. "This move impacted everyone from the shop to operations to the front office," says Canadian Lynden Transport General Manager Dan Rychlik. "Employees like Kent Maltais worked weekends; others postponed vacations. We even had to pull people from Calgary to help cover at times. I am extremely proud of the team effort here."
Alaska West Express, led by Steve Willford, planned and supervised the most challenging loads. Alaska West Express drivers and employees handle oversize and overweight loads to and within Alaska for all Lynden companies, and they were essential in delivering the awkward heavy hauls. Roughly 75 percent of the loads hauled were for the rig's subbase which consists of 525 items weighing a total of 1.7 million pounds. The Excel spreadsheet the Lynden team used for the move is a color-coded map of detailed dimensions on handrails, columns, wheel assemblies, platforms and other parts. Mike and other members of Doyon's team were set up on EZ Commerce, Lynden's reporting and tracking system, to help manage the transportation phase of the project and keep track of Lynden loads between Canada and the North Slope.
According to Paul, the heaviest and most unusual loads were the draw works, mud pumps, main beams, and engines for the rig. "When you consider that we had to move more than 300 loads that distance in six months during the winter ice road months with DOT road work and pilot car driver shortages, it's pretty impressive," he says. "We did all this while maintaining our current customer base with no impact to them while we took on this huge project. That is a testament to our dedicated operations team, drivers and mangers. I don't think there is any other company in Alaska that could've pulled this off in such a short time frame. We truly have the best team in the industry and this project proves it."
Watch the video below for a bird's eye view of Rig 26.
"This was some of the largest and heaviest equipment ever moved by Lynden Air Cargo," says Charter Manager Dave Beach. Lynden assisted DeBeers and Priestly Demolition, Inc. in their Victor Mine decommission and remediation project by flying oversized equipment out of Timmins, Ontario, to remote sites in Canada to ease the burden on the winter ice road.
"It was a team effort due to the size and complexity of the cargo. It required multiple trips to assist in the preparation and two of our most experienced Loadmasters, Leo Lopez and Matt Hise, on the job during the 16-day project," Dave explains. "The flight crew was exceptional, completing flights in difficult fall weather conditions in northern Canada. This equipment was some of the largest we have hauled in this quantity to date. Normally there are one or two pieces required to a location. This was several pieces over 17 flights, with very little margin for error due the sheer size and weight."
Lynden has worked with DeBeers out of Yellowknife, Northwest Territories since 2006, but this is the first project outside of that yearly work. "Both DeBeers and Priestly Demolition expressed their admiration at the professionalism of Lynden's crews and operations department. "We will likely see much more work with both of these groups in the years to come," Dave says.
Construction is under way for a new hydropower facility in Kake, AK and Alaska Marine Lines is supporting the project by transporting penstock pipe and other materials. Local electrical utility Inside Passage Electric Cooperative (IPEC) is building the facility at an old hatchery near town. The plant will allow the community of 630 people to move from diesel power and generators to a cheaper, cleaner and more efficient power source. It's estimated that the new plant will save 2 million pounds of CO2 per year. According to Arrowhead Transfer Operations Manager Adam Davis, the first shipment of pipe was delivered last summer, but the project has been in the works for more than a year. "We started working on the project in 2018 with contractor Rock N Road," he says. "We've already handled 60 loads of concrete and aggregate weighing between 20,000 to 66,000 pounds each to build pillars, thrust block and other features." Many of the deliveries tested Adam's driving skills as they required backing a fully loaded 40-foot trailer down a long, one-lane driveway. The trailer was too wide for the narrow bridge so the excavator was used to unload the pipe at the job site.
IPEC is scheduled to finish the $10 million project this year. Pictured above, 54-inch penstock pipe is stacked for delivery at the Alaska Marine Lines yard in Kake.
Twenty years ago, NANA/Lynden Logistics Services, LLC successfully bid and took over the onsite trucking services for Red Dog Mine near Kotzebue, AK. The services include hauling ore concentrates, freight and fuel for the mine, which is one of the largest zinc mines in the world. In the past two decades, a core team of 50 drivers and mechanics have hauled over 57 billion pounds of zinc and lead concentrates, 320 million gallons of fuel and 1 million tons of freight between the Red Dog Mine and port site 52 miles away.
"When we took over in 1999, we inherited tractors and trailers from the prior contractor and immediately saw an opportunity to improve the equipment to a more stable, environmentally safe and productive design," explains General Manager Mark Tatlow. "We switched from a 9-axle tractor trailer set with a dolly to an 11-axle trailer set with the rear trailer connected directly to the lead trailer. This allowed us to increase our payload from 170,000 pounds to 280,000 pounds. We eliminated the dolly and pintle hitch between the two trailers so they are connected by a single connection point for increased stability. We also added a solid lid to the trailers and eliminated the side dump doors to reduce dust escaping during transport."
In 2008, NANA/Lynden improved the trailer design again to increase payload. The 91-foot train with 12-axle tractor trailer sets allows hauling of 295,500 pounds of concentrate – 15,500 pounds more than the 7-axle sets and a 74 percent increase in payload over the last 20 years. "We've probably got the best ton-mile-per-gallon numbers of anyone in the country, even though the return trip is empty," Mark says. For comparison, the payload of a typical highway truck is about 40,000 pounds.
In 2000 the team switched to a single 25,000-gallon trailer for fuel transports, allowing for 10,000 more gallons of fuel to be transported with each trip. The tanker was overbuilt with external rings to strengthen the barrel and stainless steel to resist corrosion (see photo below).
Along with the improved efficiency of the mine operation, safety and accidental spill rates have improved dramatically. With only 15 incidents in the last 20 years, this represents a 342 percent improvement over the former operator.
"We are proud of our partnership with NANA and the shareholder and non-shareholder drivers and mechanics at the mine. Each day they safely and professionally operate specialized equipment in the harsh Arctic environment and have contributed to the dramatic improvements we have seen over the past two decades," Mark says.
Lynden Air Cargo is back in Papua New Guinea. "We are operating out of the capital city of Port Moresby and the city of Lae to support Exxon," says Captain Charlie Wallace. For the past several years, Lynden Air Cargo has been involved in Exxon's Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) project to construct a gas plant and pipelines on the island. Lynden's Hercules aircraft are delivering heavyweight construction materials and other equipment. Charlie is pictured with Captain Eric Feige (far left) and Flight Engineer Bill Kenney (right). "This picture shows the flight crew with a local tribeswoman in full traditional garb," he says. "It's always exciting to be working in new locations and meeting local people."
Lynden Air Cargo recently completed a three-month peacekeeping mission for the United Nations (UN) to ensure safe and legal elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). It also established a new line base in Accra, Ghana, to provide parts and repairs to its aircraft serving the Middle East North Africa (MENA) region.
"This photo (pictured above) is of our two planes at our new maintenance base in Accra, Ghana," says Jim Davis, Vice President Commercial Operations. "As our footprint increases in the MENA region, it has become important for us to build a line station facility with a large inventory of aircraft parts. This will save shipping costs, allow us to get the parts to areas where we operate more quickly, and improve our repair time which will have a direct impact on customer satisfaction."
During the peacekeeping mission Lynden's main operating base was in the DRC capital city of Kinshasa, but both Lynden planes were also positioned in other locations to help move cargo throughout the country and into Entebbe, Uganda, which is the regional logistics hub for the UN.
"One of the two aircraft was also temporarily positioned in Kenya to help move cargo out of Mombasa to Kalemie, Goma, and Kinshasa," explains Project Manager Rock Molanga. "Compared to the previous UN peacekeeping mission we supported in 2016–2017, this one was more complicated because of the current political and security situation in the DRC. The president has been out of mandate since December 2016 and this election was already postponed twice. The elections finally took place Dec. 30 and Felix Tshisekedi was elected president in the first democratic transition of power in the country's history." Over the two years Lynden was onsite, the elections were plagued by problems such as fire that destroyed the voting machines, militant attacks and an Ebola outbreak.
In addition to supporting the electoral process in developing countries, Rock is confident that Lynden Air Cargo will have many opportunities in the MENA region in the future. "The UN is present in most of the post-conflict countries in Africa." Lynden's aircraft capabilities are well-suited for the area because of the lack of infrastructure and roads throughout the African continent.
A recent project for a return customer involved four Lynden companies and three modes of transportation. Lynden Logistics was called upon to move three 56-foot power generation modules plus three 40-foot containers of supporting equipment from Europe, to Seattle and then on to a remote location in Canada. The project spanned two months and involved many twists and turns.
Planning for the move took almost a year and Lynden’s carefully coordinated delivery was moved up a month when the customer’s equipment was finished ahead of schedule in June instead of July. The delivery of the oversized freight required planning and coordination with the project lead for ‘just-in-time’ delivery of each component.
"The pieces were collected in the middle of Europe, trucked south to the port and sent via ocean to Seattle where Alaska West Express took over to get them to Canada. Lynden Logistics filed a temporary import into the U.S. for the customer, then we moved the freight inbound on Alaska Marine Lines’ bond," explains Paulette Shatara, Lynden Logistics Director of Business Development, in Houston. Lynden used heavy haul trucks with specialized shock-protected trailers to move the valuable pieces from the factory, to the port for loading onto the vessel. It was a two-day journey of more than 400 miles, requiring permits and 56-foot trailers. One of the modules weighed more than 100,000 pounds. The project also involved coordinating air shipments for paint and other hazardous materials.
Once the pieces arrived in Seattle, they were carefully offloaded from the vessel onto waiting trailers and loaded onto a north bound Alaska Marine Lines barge. Alaska West Express and Canadian Lynden Transport drivers transported them to the final destination. "The successful completion of this project was the result of the cooperative efforts of Lynden Logistics, Alaska Marine Lines, Alaska West Express and Canadian Lynden Transport," says Alaska West Express Project Manager Steve Willford. Steve also recognized Drivers Gary Ridall and James Elliot for getting the modules into the delivery site safely and the close support, advice and cooperation received from the Canadian Lynden Transport team.
S7 Airlines is the second largest airline in Russia and a long-time Lynden Logistics customer. Over the years, the carrier has called upon Lynden for a variety of projects. A project toward the start of this year involved disassembling an Embraer E-190 aircraft in Madrid, stripping it to the wings and fuselage and shipping the spare parts to S7 subsidiary Nelson Parts in Bend, OR.
According to Sergey Buchumov, Russia Sales and Marketing Director, Lynden was handling about one shipment a week ranging from an Auxiliary Power Unit (APU) to a fuel thruster weighing 2,000 pounds. "This project required many of our services," Sergey says, "such as brokerage and hazardous freight transport for aviation batteries." The first shipment of 8,000 small parts required 8,000 line items with all the necessary documentation for each. This inaugural shipment also included a freak snowstorm in Madrid that shut down roads leading into and out of the area.
"Snow in Spain was not the type of hurdle we were anticipating with this project," quips Daniel Gotham, Business Development Director, Global Projects. "They don't salt roads in Spain."
Lynden provided customs and import services to the U.S. and door-to-door delivery to the Bend airport and the airport hangar where the parts were consolidated and stored. When the aircraft parts were eventually sold to domestic and international buyers, Lynden handled that as well, which included ocean and air transport. "We are often moving the same parts twice; from Russia to the U.S. and then again from Oregon to a new destination," Sergey explains.
In addition to S7, Lynden serves nine other Russian aerospace customers from its offices in Moscow and St. Petersburg. For those producing aircraft, Lynden moves production parts and for those already in operation, repair parts for Aircraft on the Ground (AOG) situations and other needs. Parts are often sourced from Boeing and other U.S.-based suppliers allowing Lynden to call upon its network of Service Centers for expedited service.