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Telescopic Boom Installed By Heli Lift On Level 36 At The Gherkin, London

New telescopic boom required for a BMU lifted by helicopter to level 36 at the Gherkin where space was limited for a crane solution.

  • Congestion — St Mary Axe is a narrow street amongst some the tallest tower blocks in London, making access for mobile cranes very difficult.
  • Road Closures — St Mary Axe closed for 2 or 3 days for the assembly of a large crane with luffing jib would have caused significant disruption
  • Speed — Lifting this load by helicopter required a half hour road closure and 5 minutes of lifting time. The disturbance to The City was almost negligible.
  • Super Puma — The helicopter deployed has a shorter airframe than normal Pumas, giving it the enhanced lifting capacity of around 4,000kg.

This iconic building in the City of London maintains its façade using several Building Maintenance Units (BMUs) housed in ‘The Garage’ at level 36. One of these BMUs needed a new telescopic boom installed and so began the quest for a lifting solution for the new boom.

Any mobile crane solution to reach The Garage at 160m above the ground, would need a significant amount of space on the ground for its set-up and assembly of a large luffing jib. It would also require the complete closure of St Mary Axe for several days.

Having established that a crane solution was not realistically viable due to the site constraints, Helirig was called by Alimak to advise on the feasibility to undertake a full Contract Lift by helicopter.

The site is quite constrained and surrounded by more recent buildings that are significantly taller than The Gherkin. But for a helicopter to access from above, there is ample space.

With the support of our partners Heliswiss International and Radius Group, the lift was planned for early one weekend morning to minimise disruption to traffic; to pedestrians and to the many people who work in The Gherkin itself.

In September 2022, St Mary Axe road was closed for about half an hour and the lift was completed in 5 minutes.  With the lift completed, the road was immediately re-opened, and life could return to normal in this bustling corner of the City.