Dropping AHUs by helicopter: all in a day’s work

P1 CenturyLink crew

The P1 Group associates who worked on the AHU fly-in, left to right: Tom Andersen, Matt Hill, Neil Swartz, Jon Butterworth, Matt Looney, Dave Wright, Mike Franchett, Shaun Gray, Zach Kittle, Darrin Carriger, Marlon Tanner.

NEW CENTURY, Kan. – P1 Group had the opportunity on Saturday, June 7, to utilize an air crane – a helicopter capable of lifting more than 23,000 pounds – to lift four 9,000-pound air handling units (AHUs) to the top of the CenturyLink building in New Century, Kan.

The five-story building is in close proximity to the New Century Airport, so using a helicopter to lift the AHUs made a lot of sense. Not only was it relatively easy to stage the AHU drops because of the location, there are also permit obstacles for placing a traditional crane close to an airport.

Zach Kittle, P1 Group Project Manager, contracted with Erickson, Inc. to perform the lifts. Despite an early morning thunderstorm and helicopter-craneadditional wet conditions, Erickson was able to train P1 associates and then lift and place the AHUs in approximately one hour. The total time from picking up the first unit to setting the last unit was less than 22 minutes.

During the operation, four P1 Group associates worked on the ground to attach the four cables hanging from the helicopter to each AHU and an additional six associates were on the roof to set them into place. The helicopter was loud, created lots of wind and rotor wash, and the constant drizzle also made for some excitement. Still, all AHUs were set with no incidents or injuries.

P1 Group is working with KBS Constructors, Inc., the general contractor, on the CenturyLink building, which is more than 30 years old. P1 Group is renovating all of the core restrooms and is also replacing the HVAC systems in the office space.  There are about 1,200 CenturyLink employees currently working in the building, with 600 more moving in soon.

Larry Theis, Manager of Facilities Operations, was one of several spectators on hand to watch the helicopter in action. He, like many other CenturyLink employees (who were evacuated while the helicopter crew and P1 associates got the AHUs placed) was happy to see all of the work being done on the building.

“This is just a great building, and having all these updates is going to make it an even better space for us,” he said.