Read More: Annual Aerial Firefighting Safety Conference Concludes in Boise, Idaho
December 10, 2019

HAI recently completed the annual AeriaL Firefighting Safety Conference, putting a wrap on what has traditionally been the end of the fire season in the Northern Hemisphere.

Over 250 people registered for the two-day event in Boise, Idaho, representing nearly 150 companies, organizations, associations, and agencies involved in aerial firefighting, making it one of the largest such events yet. Representatives of 23 companies associated with the firefighting sector also exhibited at the conference.

“While we didn’t have any vital issues to address this year, it was still a very good conference,” says HAI Vice President of Operations Chris Martino. “Many of these people are competitors in the field, but this event brings them all together for the common goal of safety. They take significant interest in flying safely and professionally, collaborating on best practices, and the opportunity to network away from the fire lines.”

Day 1 of the event began with a meeting of HAI’s Aerial Firefighting and Natural Resources Working Group, led by Chairman Brian Beattie of Croman Corp. This was followed by safety briefings by Keith Raley of the US Department of the Interior (DoI) and Eric Shambora and Michael Reid from the US Forest Service (USFS).

After lunch, Vince Welbaum, representing the state of Colorado, held a presentation on the use of night-vision goggles (NVG) in aerial firefighting. John Shea, HAI’s director of government affairs, then spoke on how legislation can affect safety. Michael O’Shea of the FAA made the final presentation of the afternoon, speaking on unmanned aircraft systems.

On the second day of the conference, the USFS and DoI held their semiannual aerial firefighting interagency meeting and briefing. This twice-yearly event is also held at HAI HELI-EXPO®. Both events provide a forum where helicopter operators and other contractors can meet face-to-face with government officials to discuss safety, contracting questions, and other issues facing the firefighting community.

Read More: Helisim Opens Grand Prairie, Texas, Training Center
December 10, 2019

New center expands US-based simulation training offerings for Airbus customers.

When veteran French helicopter pilot and training expert Jean-Charles de Troy informed his wife in 2018 that he was being sent to Texas to manage the launch of Helisim’s new training center at Airbus Helicopters’ North American headquarters, she laid down only one condition. “‘OK,’ she said, ‘but when we move to Texas, I want one thing: I want to drive a big red pickup truck,’” de Troy says, chuckling at the thought of his wife behind the wheel of the big red Ram truck she now drives like a home-grown Texas cowgirl.

Helisim (pronounced HEL-e-sim) was formed 19 years ago as a partnership between Eurocopter (now Airbus Helicopters), Thales (the European aerospace and defense system maker that makes, among other things, helicopter simulators), and Défense Conseil International, a company that provides technical training to the special forces of France and other nations.

Helisim already trains around 3,000 pilots of Airbus-made helicopters a year at its training center in Marignane, France. Now it’s taking over Airbus’s own in-house pilot training at the company’s North American headquarters and engineering and service centers in Grand Prairie, Texas. The facility also serves Airbus’s primary helicopter support center in the western hemisphere.
De Troy recently visited with ROTOR and shared his thoughts on the new venture.

What is Helisim’s role going to be here in Texas?
De Troy: Our job is to expand Airbus’s training capacity in the Americas to make purchasing Airbus helicopters here that much more attractive. Expanded training opportunities is a big sales point for Airbus Helicopters in North America. It has been training about 1,000 pilots a year here, with about 30% of them coming for their initial type ratings.

But many more pilots have had to travel to France each year for training because there hasn’t been enough simulator time available for them to get their training here in this country. That’s very expensive and time-consuming for them. Here, they can get six to eight hours in the sim, which can be done in a day or two, and do two or three days in the classroom and get back home and to work. They don’t have to spend two days traveling on either end for training in Marignane.

We also expect we’ll attract some Airbus helicopter pilots not only from North and South America but also from Japan and northeast Asia. This is a bit closer and an easier place for them to reach. It will make buying and operating Airbus helicopters in the Americas and in parts of Asia even more attractive.

What’s your plan for growth here?
With this center, we’re only catching up with demand for training in the Americas. We expect to begin training around 2,000 pilots a year immediately with the arrival of our first new simulator next year. Eventually, we’ll see that number rise to 3,000 or more when we’re fully engaged here, with both of our new simulators online. And though the decision hasn’t yet been made, we’re building our facility large enough to accommodate a third new simulator, an H175, that we think we’ll eventually want to add.

When will your first new simulator arrive and begin operating here?
We just got word that the first new simulator coming here, our new H145 simulator, is fully assembled in France. Now they’ll have to tear it down and ship it here. We expect to see it here probably in January. Then the technicians will reassemble it and make sure everything works as it should.

We expect to begin training pilots in our new H145 simulator in June. Our second new simulator, an H160, will arrive and enter operation sometime between 2022 and 2024.

How big of an economic impact will Helisim’s expanded operations have?
It’s very big. Within just a few years, we’ll be bringing maybe 3,000 pilots a year here for training and booking around 10,000 hotel room nights a year. And some of the pilots who train here will bring their spouses because it’s a fun place, the weather is good, it’s very easy to fly into and out of here, and travel here isn’t expensive. Plus, they’ll be eating in the restaurants and shopping. The local officials and businesses in this area are very happy about our growth plans and are being very supportive and helpful.

Read More: ROTOR Wins Design Award
September 03, 2019

ROTOR Magazine was recently recognized for design excellence by the Association of Media and Publishing (AM&P). At the June 24 Excel Awards gala, the ROTOR design team received a Bronze Excel Award for Magazine Redesign for magazines in the 20,001-50,000 copies circulation category.

The ROTOR design team was composed of editor Gina Kvitkovich, assistant editor Jenna Scafuri, and graphic designer Phyllis Utter from HAI, and a team of outside designers from BonoTom Studio. As part of the project, the team adopted a new nameplate (or logo) for ROTOR, new fonts and layout grids, as well new paper.

The team also reorganized the content of the magazine, placing less emphasis on HAI internal departments and more on the types of content requested by readers. A column on training (Keeping Up) was added. ROTOR now covers helicopter accidents and incidents. Several columns focus on the people and businesses that make up our industry, including Field Notes, Future Faces, Flight Path, and In the Spotlight.

Our Fly Safe and Work Safe columns are aimed at pilot safety and workplace safety, respectively, adopting the team-based approach to safety that reflects safety management system principles. And we instituted this section, ROTOR Wash, as a place for HAI news, short interviews, industry data, and helpful tips—all aimed at helping you to keep your rotors turning.

Stay tuned—the ROTOR media team has more changes coming your way.

Read More: HAI Hires John Shea as Government Affairs Director
September 03, 2019

Strengthening its advocacy efforts and building on its track record of legislative wins for the helicopter industry, HAI has hired John Shea as its new director of government affairs.

Shea will track at the state and federal levels all legislative developments related to the helicopter industry. Reporting to Vice President of Government Affairs Cade Clark, Shea will meet with US congressional staff to advocate for HAI members on helicopter and general aviation issues.

Shea comes to HAI from the National Association of State Aviation Officials (NASAO), where he served as director for government relations in 2019 and as interim president in 2018. For NASAO, he coordinated advocacy and legislative efforts with Congress and federal agencies, and established the association’s legislative positions, goals, and timelines.

“His background of Hill experience and working with state-level officials means that John has a solid grounding in aviation issues,” Clark says. “By bringing him on, HAI has expanded our advocacy bandwidth tremendously.” Clark expects that Shea’s familiarity with the FAA, knowledge and experience in government affairs, and deep experience in association management and operations will enable him to quickly become an effective member of the HAI advocacy team.

“HAI’s advocacy efforts have resulted in big wins for our industry, such as when we successfully advocated against the privatization of air traffic control. But we can’t rest on past accomplishments,” says HAI President and CEO Matt Zuccaro. “Hiring John Shea is one way to communicate to the world at large that we intend to fight for our members.”

Before joining NASAO, Shea was a congressional staffer for several years. His legislative portfolio included commerce, financial services, homeland security, trade, and transportation.

Shea will bolster HAI’s advocacy efforts in the following areas:

  • Strengthening federal and state initiatives to pursue workforce development for future helicopter pilots and maintenance technicians
  • Preserving access to airspace for helicopter operations throughout the National Airspace System (NAS)
  • Ensuring veterans keep their flight­training benefits
  • Aiding the safe integration of unmanned aircraft systems into the NAS.

 

Read More: Helicopter Air Medical Safety Conference Held May 8–9
September 03, 2019

HAI, the Association of Air Medical Services, and the Air Medical Operators Association recently hosted a Helicopter Air Medical Safety Conference in Arlington, Virginia. The three associations invited executives, managers, pilots, and maintenance technicians from helicopter air ambulance operations (HAA) to meet and discuss their issues and challenges.

On Day 1, several panel discussions reviewed regulatory items stemming from the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018, preemption threats to air medical operators, and the FAA’s legal perspective of these issues.

After lunch provided by the host associations, the conference resumed with a panel discussion on the impact of the integration of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS, or drones) into the National Airspace System. As HAA operations often fly at the same low altitudes where drones are commonly found, this discussion focused on containing the dangers posed by UAS to air medical transport providers.

Brendan Schulman, vice president for policy and legal affairs at DJI, the world’s leading civilian drone manufacturer, told attendees what his company is doing to protect the skies in the drone era. The company recently announced that it will install ADS-B receivers in all DJI drones weighing more than 0.55 lb, enabling them to be located, tracked, and in some cases, diverted. 

The day’s presentations concluded with one on managing the high-risk environment of helicopter air ambulance operations. A networking reception followed.
Day 2 of the conference began with opening remarks from the host association presidents and breakfast. Next, the FAA started a conversation around air medical accident statistics, giving audience members the data necessary to understand where the accidents are happening and perhaps a vision of where to look for solutions.

Next up was a presentation on recent air medical accidents by Bruce Landsberg, vice chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, who also provided his perspective on safety and accident prevention gained from years of investigating aircraft accidents. HAI President and CEO Matt Zuccaro then spoke on corporate safety culture and how the business end of operations can influence decision-making at the user level, leading to unintended consequences and accidents.

After lunch and on the home stretch of Day 2, attendees heard about HAA legislative initiatives. Next, Chris Hill, HAI director of safety, introduced the HAI Aviation Reporting Program (HARP). This app provides one-stop reporting for all things hazardous to helicopter aviation, including bird and laser strikes and drone events. Visit rotor.org/harp to learn more.

The final presentation of the conference was by representatives of the Helicopter Occupant Protection Working Group, an FAA Aviation Rulemaking Advisory Committee that recently concluded its work. Attendees learned about fuel cell development, drop testing, fuel breakaway fittings, energy-absorbing seats, and the engineering involved in making our equipment safer for us.

Each panel and presentation created spirited discussion, often spurred on by the expertise that existed in the audience. The ability to meet others engaged in HAA operations and to discuss issues collaboratively is a valuable tool in reaching our industry’s goal of zero accidents. HAI is already planning to make the Helicopter Air Medical Safety Conference an annual event.

Read More: HAI Launches Aviation Job Page with Help from JSirm.com
September 03, 2019

HAI announced the launch of its newest Partner Service membership benefit with JSfirm.com: a searchable, interactive database of aviation job postings from domestic and international companies. This partnership stems from both organizations’ shared goal of solving the shortage of qualified aviation professionals and offers HAI members a new, dynamic tool to promote their employment opportunities.

Visit rotor.org/resources/aviation-jobs to access the database and its list of thousands of aviation job from companies around the world. Job-seekers can post resumes, and companies can post job opportunities. The database is searchable by keyword, company, location, or job type.

“We’ve talked about the helicopter pilot and maintenance technician shortage quite a lot,” says HAI President and CEO Matt Zuccaro. “This partnership is a valuable workforce development tool that will assist our members in matching qualified candidates for their open positions. An HAI Member icon identifies jobs posted by our members, giving job-seekers the knowledge that the position is with a company that is committed to the highest standards of our industry. In addition, a helicopter icon marks those positions that are helicopter-specific.”

“Our new partnership with HAI will provide HAI members with added value. Through HAI’s network, we will enhance our ability to make jobs readily accessible to current and future helicopter professionals,” says Abbey Hutter, manager of marketing and partnerships, JSfirm.com.

Read More: HAI President and CEO Matt Zuccaro to Retire in 2020
September 03, 2019

The HAI Board of Directors announced the impending retirement of Matthew Zuccaro, president and CEO, effective June 30, 2020. This date coincides with the association’s fiscal year and the installation of a new Board of Directors on July 1, 2020.

Zuccaro has led the association since November 1, 2005. The Executive Committee of the Board of Directors will use an executive search firm to aid in finding Zuccaro’s successor and will consider candidates both internal and external.

“The HAI Board of Directors, on behalf of the entire industry, offer our deepest appreciation to Matt for his service,” says former HAI Chair James Wisecup. “Through his leadership, HAI has been a leading advocate to improve the safety of helicopter operations worldwide. Matt has also been a forceful supporter for the industry in legislative and regulatory matters, saving our members and the industry at large from overburdensome legislation and regulations.”

“We wish Matt well, and we thank him for the opportunity to take the next year to select his successor thoughtfully,” says HAI Chair Jan Becker. “The board is aware of the great responsibility we have to select the next person to lead HAI into the future.

“Our industry is evolving at a record pace. The next HAI president must be capable of navigating through several complex issues, including the pilot and maintenance technician shortage and the safe integration of unmanned aircraft systems, while continuing to provide members with tools that enhance the economic viability, safety, and public acceptance of their operations,” she says.

During an aviation career that has spanned more than 50 years, Zuccaro held several executive and operations management positions with commercial, corporate, air tour, scheduled airline, and public-service helicopter operations in the northeastern United States. During his tenure with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, he served in operations management positions at John F. Kennedy International Airport and the Port Authority’s public and private heliports.

Zuccaro received his initial helicopter flight training as a US Army aviator and served with the 7/17 Air Calvary unit in Vietnam. He holds ATP and CFII certificates for both airplanes and helicopters. He is a recipient of the HAI Pilot Safety Award for 10,000 hours of accident- and violation-free flight hours, the NBAA Pilot Safety award, and numerous other industry awards for his efforts for and commitment to the helicopter industry.

Zuccaro is looking forward to the opportunity to spend more time with his family as he considers new opportunities to assist the international helicopter community.

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.
 

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