Ken Poirier, owner of the 18-year-old company, and his boat-builder brother, Terry, are building their first 15 feet x 24 feet long aluminum hull airboat for the firm’s work in powerline service, and pipeline repair projects.
Aimed at being a workhorse rather than a racehorse, the stout boat will have two 540 cubic inch motors delivering 750 horsepower each. The compatibility of the horsepower and the torque are close, with 730 pounds of torque, making it capable of pushing the boat with a center mounted Palfinger Knuckle-boom hydraulic crane through water and dry land as it travels across swamps and over hummocks as far as a mile at a time.
Poirier – who has at least ten smaller airboats and barges for lease in his business to Entergy and others – said the big airboat will replace the use of marsh buggies and similar tracked vehicles because of its softer footprint and environmentally friendly impact on the land.
Much less damage is incurred in the work zones, leaving no footprint left behind in less than a week after repairs or line replacement have effectively been accomplished. Because no grass replenishment is required to bring the area back to its original condition, makes this method quicker, cheaper, and more efficient for those utility line applications.
There are airboats similar to his in the region, but this boat will give Poirier more control concerning his client’s needs, with the 60’ tall remote control telescoping crane reaching power line height, along with a front-end backhoe attachment for pipe repair and inspection.
The Mas Performance motors have a four-blade composite propeller mounted on the 56 80 aluminum grade hull, 3/16” thick on the bottom, layered with a 3/8” exterior plastic polymer bottom covering to make it slippery.
Two motors seem to be the ideal configuration, giving it more stability and maneuverability, whether on water or land. Turning the boat around is usually done with one engine, and even though he is confident about the engine’s dependability after using Mas’ engines for over three years, if he happens to be in the “middle of nowhere” and an engine cuts out, there is always the second one to depend on to get him back home.
Still a work in progress, the large airboat may eventually have spud capability for those occasions when accurate stationary placement is required to hold the boat in the water so a precise lift can be made.
But right now, Ken Poirier is more concerned about doing a good job with less impact to the environment, which makes everyone happier in the sensitive areas of our Louisiana natural resources that we need to keep as pristine as possible.