Recovery of a helicopter with a Jekko JF545 - Jekko

Recovery of a helicopter with a Jekko JF545

Lifting and handling
Bendini Gru
Lifting and handling Italy

Our customer reports:

“In early June this year, we at Bendini gru srl have carried out an extraordinary recovery intervention.


It’s been the most complex intervention of the year: the recovery of a helicopter forced to perform an emergency landing on the Tuscan-Emilian Apennines.


The site to attend was in Rio, on the Tuscan-Emilian Apennines, north-east of the Lake Suviana (approx. 40 km south-west of our headquarters in Lama di Reno, Bologna). The helicopter to be recovered was an aircraft of Elifriulia Helicopter Service that, after taking off from its base in Ronchi dei Legionari – province of Gorizia in the region Friuli Venezia Giulia – was heading to Garfagnana (province of Lucca) for firefighting duties.


After flying over the Po Valley, the helicopter entered a low cloudbank piled up by the bad weather close to the Tuscan-Emilian Apennines and momentarily lost visual bearings. When the fields of vision cleared up, the helicopter was too close to the mountain and to the electricity pylons to stay on course therefore the two pilots were forced to perform an emergency landing in order to avoid crashing against the mountain or the pylons.


Once landed and no longer able to take off for technical reasons, the aircraft immediately sent an SOS message to the relevant authorities asking for assistance. That’s when Bendini gru srl came into play.


The challenge we had to face once the preliminary inspection was carried out wasn’t easy. We had to retrieve a 12×2-m helicopter, weighing 2 tons and worth over 2 million euros, without further damaging the aircraft and the surrounding environment, a ground not readily accessible in the middle of the Apennines woodland, with a 16% steep slope and undergoing heavy hydrogeological disruption due to the severe bad weather that had hit the Emilia Romagna region in the previous weeks.


The recovery scenarios were three:

  • Use a larger helicopter to sling and transport Elifriulia’s aircraft to its facilities in Gorizia.
  • Use a crane truck, causing a higher impact on the environment and being much more difficult to manage from a logistic point of view.
  • Organize an alternation of vehicles such as crane truck, farm tractor and minicrane to remove the helicopter.

After analysing the situation with the experts, we decided that the best solution would be the relay race of different vehicles.


For such an intervention – on steep ground, confined spaces, slopes and with a heavy load – the Jekko JF545 minicrane is ideal. This articulated crawler minicrane weighs 18.2 tons, has a maximum lifting capacity of 15.500 kg and a 360° continuous rotation of the main boom. This compact model combines a variable stabilization on 5 different stability levels and a huge lifting capacity so that it perfectly fits to the extremely demanding requirements this intervention called for.


The morning after, a team of 5 loaded the Jekko minicrane on a truck and headed to the meeting point, where we would set off on the crawler crane for the intervention site. Once on the spot and the minicrane unloaded, we partly walked and partly proceeded on the crawler for 3 km on dirt and steep mountain road (due to landslides), followed by the farm tractor.


When we reached our destination, we correctly stabilized the minicrane in the clearing where the farm tractor would later move the damaged aircraft as close as possible to the Jekko crane. It was time for the JF545 to come into play. A hook was arranged in the fulcrum of the propellers – which had been previously removed by hand – so that the minicrane, deploying its 16-m reach main boom, hooked and lifted the aircraft and rested it on flat ground. From that position, we manually pushed the helicopter for another 10 metres to a better spot where it could be lifted onto the farm tractor in order to double back on the way to the valley. There, a base camp had been set up in order to arrange the aircraft for the last stretch of its trip.


The staff of Bendini gru srl was impeccable during this recovery intervention that lasted about 10 hours, including preparation and the return to our headquarters.”