Aviation TechnologyOctober 23, 2020
You might know Richard Westra. The helicopter aviator and reporter for KMGH-Television 7NEWS has been with the station for fifteen years and has a lot over 15, 000 flight hours. What you might not know is that whenever he isn’t busy doing the afternoon and evening news, he devoted his time to Aviation Technology Services. Westra co owns ATS with Kevin P. Kauffman, who also wears different hats. He owns Kauffman Company, Inc., an independent oil and gas production and well service business operating in Colorado and New Mexico. I met Kevin about five decades ago when I was coaching him to fly a helicopter.
Can it survive another year?
Said Westra. He liked my organization initiative and we saw a market we can fill. We started this business a year and a half ago, and we’ve been performing very well. We would like to continue to grow and also to provide outstanding service. Westra taught Kauffman through his helicopter coaching business, Mile High Helicopter Company. The business is still in existence, but today does all his work as ATS. At this time, in the Denver metro region, there’s a shortage of helicopter services, thus we attempt to fill that emptiness, clarified Westra. The business’s corporate office is located in Denver, and the helicopters are hanging at Centennial Airport.
ATS offers 3 types of services. The main service is aerial surveillance to monitor the integrity in the gas and oil industry. We search for methane gas, said Westra. Many of the infrastructure from moving methane gas out from the ground to public services is thru underground pipeline. The pipeline is getting old, thus we use a sensor under our helicopters to search for leaks while flying over the pipelines. ATS looks for methane gas escapes utilizing A Boreal laser, state-of the art technologies that’s strapped under their aircraft. The service is very important because an undetected leak might lead to significant loss of revenue, fines, damage to property, and even accidental death.
Limits of the business
ATS pilots could fly up to 60 mph while collecting data to monitor the pipeline integrity. The laser is even self calibrating. ATSs system takes air samples each second and provides a streaming digital video of the flight path over the pipeline. Global Positioning System allows the various helicopter positions to be recorded on maps or airborne photos. ATS says this kind of technology saves time and money and is more accurate than ground surveillance or infrared or ultraviolet methods. If a leak is detected, ATS is capable of rapidly transporting environmental response personnel to the scene. ATS also provides utility services such as airborne firefighting, search and rescue assistance, load lifting and personnel transportation. We airlift anything from air conditioners to hot tubs to cattle which are stuck on the side of a hill in the snow, said Westra. We take anything you can think of that weighs less than 1, 000