Our industry faces two long-term challenges.
This is my last column for ROTOR in my tenure as your chairman—this year has gone by way too fast. It has been a great honor to serve as the chairman of the Board of Directors and to have represented you, my fellow members of Helicopter Association International (HAI).
My participation in HAI has been a high point in my 50-year aviation career. It has been gratifying to watch our industry mature into what it is today.
Similarly, I have had the pleasure of seeing HAI grow from representing a group of helicopter operators to becoming an advocate of safety for the entire vertical-lift community. We also promote the utility of helicopters to the world, as well as work tirelessly with operators, pilots, maintenance technicians, manufacturers, and regulators around the globe to improve all aspects of our workplaces.
When I mention what HAI has achieved, I am really talking about what the people of HAI have accomplished. This organization is made up of so many great staffers and members who tirelessly work behind the scenes to make our helicopter world a better place. I thank them for making my term as chairman so easy. We should all be proud to be members of this organization.
I also want to thank my fellow board members for their valuable insights into the world of international helicopter operations. Like our fellow HAI members who serve on committees or otherwise provide guidance and input to HAI, my fellow board members are volunteers. They give of their time, without compensation, to better our industry.
Looking forward, I believe we face two challenges that threaten the future of our industry. As you go about your daily business, please keep these issues in mind. Consider how you can make positive steps to reduce their impact.
The first is the shortage of qualified pilots and maintenance technicians. Operations are already being affected, and the competition for skilled, high-time aviation personnel is going to get worse before it gets better. It is imperative that we all promote in our communities the positive aspects of working in vertical-lift aviation. If we want to get young people interested in an aviation career, we need to reach them early in their education—before high school.
The second challenge is the noise issue. While some in our industry may dismiss noise complaints, the FAA and federal, state, and local governments don’t seem to see it that way. Unless our industry demonstrates that it can be a responsible neighbor, our operations are in danger of being curtailed. Forget about encouraging others in the helicopter community to fly neighborly—we need to demand that they do so. Otherwise, the political fallout could be that we lose the ability to operate in vast portions of airspace. Let’s aim to maximize our ability to operate, not restrict it.
Again, it has been a great pleasure to serve as your chairman for the past year. I will serve another year on the board as a director and assistant treasurer, continuing to work for you, the HAI membership. If you ever need anything from me, please don’t hesitate to send me an email (James.Wisecup@rotor.org). Thank you for your continued support.