Read More: HAI Provides Reporting Tool for Rotorcraft Pilots
June 19, 2019

To address a growing need for reporting airborne safety hazards, helicopter pilots now have a new website, www.rotor.org/HARP, that allows for fast and easy reporting of near misses and other in-flight safety events.
 
The HAI Aviation Reporting Program (HARP) was developed by the association’s Operations Department specifically for helicopter pilots, with customized data fields for manned and unmanned rotary-wing operations. The program is accessible from any Web-enabled device.
 
HARP grew out of a discussion among members of the HAI Air Medical Services Committee. They felt there was not an effective system for prompt reporting of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS, or drone) activities that could threaten the safety of helicopter air ambulance operators.
 
HARP users can report events in these specific reporting categories:
  • Drone/UAS event
  • Accident/serious incident
  • Near midair collision
  • Wildlife strike/activity
  • Laser event
  • Other hazards.
Clicking on one of the six categories then directs users to the proper reporting source or guides them through a menu of questions or selections related to the event, capturing date, time, location, description, and other key data.
 
Pilots using HARP experience the convenience of accessing several reporting systems within one portal. If another reporting system already exists for the event, such as the NTSB one for accidents and incidents or the FAA’s for laser events, HARP connects pilots to that site.
 
“HARP is not intended to serve as a substitute for other public reporting systems or programs,” says Chris Hill, director of safety at HAI. “We encourage pilots to continue using any effective, responsive system they prefer for reporting hazardous conditions. HARP provides a simple reporting portal that promptly guides users through the reporting steps and ensures that vital safety information is shared with stakeholder operators in the most expedient manner possible.
 
“HAI will handle all HARP submissions with the utmost care and respect for individual and operator privacy. We are working directly with NASA in an effort to develop strict protocols for secure processing and transfer of HARP submissions into NASA’s Aviation Safety Reporting System (ASRS),” adds Hill.
 

Read More: HAI Announces New Directors, Officers
June 19, 2019

One element of the HAI HELI‑EXPO trade show is the HAI Annual Membership Meeting & Breakfast. In addition to mounds of bacon and eggs, HAI members who attend the breakfast also receive reports from the association’s leaders and hear from candidates standing for election to the HAI Board of Directors. Members may vote online before the show opens and on-site at the show.
 
In Atlanta, the voters selected Jeffery Smith of R.O.P. Aviation in Teterboro, New Jersey, to join the board. Smith will fill the open general aviation seat on the board, replacing current director David Bjellos, who will leave the board when his term expires at the end of June. The nine director positions on the board are allocated among various industry sectors to match the demographics of HAI operator members.
 
Besides serving as chief pilot for R.O.P. Aviation, Smith has worked with the Eastern Region Helicopter Council for more than 15 years, serving as chairman for five years. He is a US Army veteran and has accumulated more than 10,000 flight hours, including over 700 hours in military and commercial helicopter air ambulance missions. Smith currently serves as the chairman of the HAI Fly Neighborly Committee and has previously worked with the Helicopter Tour Operator Committee, Flight Operations Committee, and the Heliport Committee.

Read More: HeliFutures: Next Steps in Workforce Development
June 19, 2019

Helicopter Foundation International (HFI) hosted the second meeting of HeliFutures at HAI HELI-EXPO 2019. The group brings together stake­holders from across the helicopter industry, including operators and maintenance and flight schools, to discuss initiatives for attracting, training, and developing the pilots and maintenance technicians who will be the rotorcraft workforce of the future.
 
As part of the meeting, attendees highlighted several examples of partnerships and collaborations within our industry. One example is a multimedia campaign, Choose Aerospace, developed by the Aviation Technical Education Council (ATEC). The campaign will promote aviation maintenance to young people, employing techniques such as video testimonials, social media, and mobile games and apps.
 
More than 10 industry partners have already signed on as partners in the campaign, including several airlines, the Aviation Institute of Maintenance, and other aviation maintenance organizations. ATEC is seeking additional partners; learn more at chooseaerospace.org.
 
Some operators and flight schools have created career progression programs that take the mystery out of building a career as a helicopter pilot. These programs provide pilots with stable employment, mentorship and support, and a clear path for their advancement from low-time pilot to a 2,000-hour pilot with turbine experience who will be in demand by all industry sectors.
 
Aviation Futures, which was started by Colorado Heli-Ops, Sundance Helicopters’ Skypath Program, and the University of North Dakota University Pathways Program are good examples of career progression programs; several airlines now have them for maintenance technicians too. Access to pilots and AMTs is one advantage for operators; the other is the opportunity to influence training so that eventual hires will meet the operator’s standards and needs.
 
Finally, HFI announced an initiative it is spearheading in the state of Utah. The Utah Rotor Pathway Program is in the development stage and is organized around industry partners, high schools, and universities in that state. Utah’s government leaders recognize that supporting aviation education for pilots and maintenance technicians benefits their state by providing solid career opportunities for its citizens while building a trained aviation workforce.
 
As we look to future meetings, HeliFutures will work with member organizations at the state level to establish similar pathway programs. The group is also investigating programs that will lessen the financial barriers to aviation training. These could include a student loan fund and innovative employment benefits such as student loan repayment programs.

Read More: ROTOR Wash: HAI Briefs
February 28, 2019

Hold on … HAI HELI-EXPO 2020 is WHEN?

Attendees and exhibitors should start planning and budgeting for HAI HELI-EXPO 2020 in Anaheim now, because it’s already less than a year away. HAI HELI-EXPO 2020 will take place a few weeks earlier than normal, January 27–30, 2020, with the exhibit floor open January 28–30.

As you probably know, HAI rotates the location of the show, moving each year between large convention centers in a select group of cities. This gives industry operators and other companies the chance to participate in an Expo “in their own backyard” every few years. For 2020, it’s time to visit the West Coast of the United States.

HAI typically hosts its annual trade show in the southern tier of the United States, where the weather is more likely to cooperate for fly-ins and fly-outs. Surpris­ingly, Anaheim is the only convention center on the West Coast with the 1 million square feet of exhibit floor and meeting space required to put on HAI HELI-EXPO®, the world’s largest helicopter trade show and exposition.

Anaheim is historically one of the most popular destinations for HAI HELI-EXPO attendees. The combination of weather, world-class attractions, easy access, and unbeatable industry networking and education will make for a productive and memorable show.

So plan to come to HAI HELI-EXPO 2020 a bit earlier than usual. Start your year and decade strong in warm, sunny, fun Anaheim.
 

Read More: HFI Expands Scholarship Program
November 14, 2018

Helicopter Foundation International (HFI) has expanded the number of scholarships offered as part of its 2019 Scholarship Program for student pilots and aviation maintenance technicians (AMTs). New this year are three scholarships to Southern Utah University’s (SUU) Rotor Wing Pilot Program. Each scholarship, valued at up to $20,000, covers specific training labs, tuition, and fees.

Located in Cedar City, Utah, the Rotor Wing Program is part of the school’s aviation degree program. The SUU scholarships include training for:

  • Rotor Wing Cross Country Maneuvers Lab
  • Rotor Wing Commercial Pilot Certification Lab
  • Instrument Commercial Rotor Wing Lab A
  • Instrument Commercial Rotor Wing Lab B
  • Rotor Wing Instrument Certification Lab.

Including the new scholarships, the HFI program now comprises 22 scholarships for pilots and AMTs currently enrolled in training. The deadline to submit a scholar-ship application is November 30, 2018. Interested students should visit rotor.org/scholarships for additional information and application requirements.

Read More: HAI 2.0
November 14, 2018

Summer was a busy time at HAI, as the association conducted a wide-ranging software overhaul that touched every department and every member.

Most noticeable to HAI members and visitors is the new website (www.rotor.org), built with the assistance of web developer and new HAI associate member, 10 Pound Gorilla. The new site is supported by an updated architecture that enables a host of new features. The site also sports a much more modern look, with an emphasis on making it easy for visitors to find what they’re seeking.

The backbone of the project is HAI’s new association management software (AMS) that integrates significantly with the website. A big part of any AMS is a database, and HAI’s new AMS, provided by Impexium, allows users to more easily access membership information. With the new system, HAI members and customers can update their information online, renew their membership, and even manage their ROTOR subscriptions.

HAI members can now use their email address and set their own password when accessing the site. “One of the nicest elements of these integrations is the use of single sign-on technology,” says Ed DiCampli, chief operating officer of HAI and the driving force behind the software updates. “A member or visitor has access to most of our new features, and they only need to register and sign on once.”

HAI’s Education Department got in on the action as it opened the new HAI Online Academy. Through the academy, helicopter professionals can register and take online courses in a variety of subjects—anytime, anywhere around the world. The HAI Online Academy offers the courses below, and the list is growing:

  • Safety Manager
  • Maintenance Manager
  • UAS Part 107 Test Prep
  • Garmin 430/530 Master Training
  • Strike, Snarge, and Safety—Your Guide to Wildlife Strike Reporting.

One of the methods HAI uses to communicate with members also got a facelift. HAI’s Business Development unit switched to a new email service provider that distributes ROTOR Daily and other email announcements. This service also integrates with the AMS, providing for better opt-in/opt-out options while continuing to maintain the security of users’ email addresses and other personal information.

In fact, integration of all the systems of the association—from membership renewal, to event registration, to picking out your booth space, and more—was one of the aspects that made the project both challenging and rewarding. But the goal was to ensure that all system users, including HAI staff, members, and customers, could conduct their business with HAI efficiently and effectively.

Read More: HeliFutures: Industry Partners Gather to Address Helicopter Pilot and Mechanic Shortage
November 14, 2018

Thirty representatives of companies and organizations in the helicopter industry met recently to discuss the workforce shortage of pilots and aviation maintenance technicians (AMTs) within the helicopter industry. The event, HeliFutures: Creating Strategic Workforce Solutions and Driving Industry Business Outcomes, was held at HAI’s Alexandria, Virginia, offices.

This meeting follows the release of a study earlier in 2018 that quantified the depth of the shortages for the first time. Commissioned by Helicopter Foundation International (HFI) and conducted by the University of North Dakota, the study confirmed the long-held “word on the street” that our industry was experiencing a shortage of pilots and AMTs.

“Based on the University of North Dakota Study, we knew the demand for helicopter pilots and maintenance technicians has outpaced supply and will continue to get worse over the next 20 years,” says Allison McKay, vice president of HFI. “We created HeliFutures to bring the industry together to address the reasons for the shortages and ensure that we have a high-quality, sustainable workforce.”

“These shortages are now stopping our HAI operator members from meeting obligations or accepting new work,” said Matt Zuccaro, HAI president, during opening remarks before the group. “I am pleased that so many could join us to find solutions to one of the most important issues facing our industry today. 
“For us to succeed, we must overcome significant obstacles,” continued Zuccaro. “Competition for highly skilled personnel is fierce across aviation, and we see that even nonaviation industries want people with the skills that our pilots and AMTs have.”

Working in smaller teams, the group first identified the industry’s top three workforce challenges:

  • The lack of available pilots and aviation maintenance technicians
  • Retaining qualified personnel
  • Affordability and accessibility of education and training.

The group identified strategies to support and drive industry workforce outcomes. “From our day-and-a-half event, we identified three solutions the industry can develop to retain and attract future helicopter professionals,” continues McKay. “Obviously, there are many ways to tackle this problem, but we decided to focus on these three.”

The three strategies identified are:

  • Promote our industry to the next generation. Steps in accomplishing this solution include creating an online portal for both AMTs and pilots that provide a one-stop, comprehensive look at the career, including salary projections, sample career paths, training information, and testimonials from those in the industry.
  • Create apprenticeship programs. Apprenticeship programs could be the key to closing the experience gap by providing low-time pilots and AMTs with a way to gain the skills and hours they need to progress in their chosen careers.
  • Improve overall employee benefits to increase retention. This strategy will need to be implemented at the company level. Meeting attendees noted that the airline industry is much more vertically integrated than ours—there are fewer companies and they tend to be larger. This gives airlines competitive advantages when competing with the helicopter industry for pilots and AMTs, such as higher pay and extensive recruitment campaigns. However, numerous studies have shown that many factors other than salary are important in job satisfaction. It’s time to be creative in thinking how your company could attract and retain your workforce.

Read More: Happy 70th Anniversary!
November 13, 2018

On December 13, 1948, just under three years after the first helicopter was certificated for civilian use in the United States, 15 men and one woman gathered in Burbank, California, at the offices of AF Helicopters. This group of risk-taking entrepreneurs who had invested in the potential of a brand-new aviation technology formed the Helicopter Council—a group that is today known as Helicopter Association International (HAI).

The purpose of the Helicopter Council, in part, was “promoting the interests of helicopter operators, for mutual cooperation and aid.” Since that momentous meeting, our organization has gone through a series of name changes. However, HAI’s current mission still remains fixed on our members: “To provide its members with services that directly benefit their operations, and to advance the international helicopter community by providing programs that enhance safety, encourage professionalism and economic viability while promoting the unique contributions vertical flight offers society.”

Today, HAI continues to promote the helicopter industry and safe flight, supported by a nine-member Board of Directors elected from member companies. Also assisting the association are 13 committees made up of volunteers who come together to address current problems and issues affecting our industry. HAI HELI-EXPO® remains the largest helicopter trade show and exposition in the world, attended by thousands of exhibitors and attendees every year.

Starting with a single person in the 1960s, HAI’s staff today includes more than 40 people dedicated to assisting our members in promoting the safety, efficiency, and profitability of helicopter operations around the world. HAI President and CEO Matt Zuccaro, a 50-year veteran pilot and aviation executive, and a former chairman of the association, has led HAI since 2005.

Read More: Chris Hill Named HAI Director of Safety
November 13, 2018

HAI is pleased to announce the hiring of Chris Hill as director of safety. In this position, Chris is responsible for managing the association’s existing aviation safety programs and for developing new safety initiatives to benefit HAI’s membership and the international helicopter community.

“We are grateful to find someone of Chris’s caliber to fill our director of safety position,” says HAI president and CEO Matthew Zuccaro. “I’m looking forward to working with Chris to confront the safety issues affecting our industry.”

Chris comes to HAI with more than 32 years of rotary-wing and operational aviation safety experience. After serving as a helicopter pilot in the US Army and Coast Guard, Chris served in numerous roles supporting Coast Guard aviation safety, operations, logistics, and acquisitions. He also has extensive commercial offshore experience operating from multiple platform and vessel types in the Gulf of Mexico.

For the past five years, Chris served at Coast Guard Headquarters in Washington, D.C., as the service’s civilian aviation safety manager. He served as a safety officer, flight standardization officer, and instructor pilot in three operational assignments. He has an ATP helicopter rating with more than 5,000 flight hours in 12 commercial and military rotary- and fixed-wing aircraft.

“I am honored to be a part of the HAI team, working with our members, operators, and safety professionals around the world,” says Chris. “As the director of safety, my primary focus will be to help enhance and integrate safety cultures and leading practices that can benefit all industry stakeholders.

“I will be serving as the staff liaison for the Safety and Unmanned Aircraft Systems Committees,” Chris continues. “As we work together to continue improving our safety programs and services, I really look forward to getting creative ideas and constructive feedback from our industry committees, members, and others to ensure that we continue to address the highest priority safety issues and concerns.”

A native of California and Texas, he graduated from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University with a bachelor’s in professional aeronautics in 1989 and a master’s in aeronautical science in 1998.

Chris is married and has a son and two daughters. His wife, Allison, is a manager at VectorCSP, based in Elizabeth City, North Carolina; Colten is an account manager at Metropolitan Press in Dallas; Naomi attends Chapman University in Orange, California; and Sophia attends Springfield High School in Springfield, Virginia.