Read More: HeliOffshore Brings Safety Innovation to Offshore Operators
January 17, 2020

Competitors share data to target improved safety. 

Gretchen Haskins knows best safety practices when she sees them. The CEO of HeliOffshore Ltd. in London, UK, is an aviation industry leader in safety performance improvement and an internationally recognized expert in human factors. She has served on the board of the UK Civil Aviation Authority as group director of safety, guiding aviation safety in the United Kingdom, including airlines, aerodromes, air traffic, airworthiness, and personnel. Haskins’s aviation background includes having flown jet and piston aircraft in the US Air Force.

Haskins has led HeliOffshore since its founding in 2014 by five major helicopter operators. The organization now has 118 members that work collaboratively to improve offshore helicopter safety around the world.

ROTOR MAGAZINE: HeliOffshore is known for its ­dedication to global offshore helicopter safety. Your organization has become an example of companies—competitors—coming together to cooperate on safety issues. How hard has it been to create the necessary trust and cooperation around the idea of managing safety issues as an industrywide cooperative endeavor?

HASKINS: We were fortunate right from the start to get the CEOs of five major helicopter operators to come together and say, effectively, “We’re not going to compete on safety.” Thanks to that early, strong support for the concept, HeliOffshore has been able to create almost a safety management system for the entire industry, not just individual companies.

We started our work based on one primary question: “How would you form a collaboration to ensure that NO lives will be lost in helicopters, or certainly in offshore helicopter operations?”

It’s not a question of how this or that operator eliminates deaths in offshore operations but how the entire group does so.

ROTOR: But that sounds easier said than done.

HASKINS: Right. Well, we had to get our arms around what the broad threats facing the industry are, not just the threats individual operators see, because none of the individual operators are big enough, really, to have large enough data sets to allow them to see the full picture.

But we had a good example to follow from the fixed-wing world, which has several organizations, like the Flight Safety Foundation, ICAO, and the various airline trade groups, which all use broad data from across the industry to detect trends that may not be—and probably aren’t—visible at the single-operator level. So we borrowed from those established approaches. That had never really be done in the vertical flight world.

ROTOR: Any examples from the fixed-wing world that were especially helpful?

HASKINS: The FAA, with its CAST [Commercial Aviation Safety Team] program, set a goal years ago of reducing fatalities among US airlines by 80%, and they achieved that goal. They did it through collaboration, data sharing, and really getting the whole supply chain—from little parts suppliers to big component manufacturers to the aircraft makers, plus the FAA and other national and regional regulators—involved in sharing all their data. For the first time, we could do a good analysis of a data set large enough to detect trends that might not be noticeable by, or understandable to, one operator analyzing just their own data.

ROTOR: What’s an example of that working for offshore helicopter operators now?

HASKINS: One of the biggest causes of fatalities in helicopters is CFIT, controlled flight into terrain—which in our case can mean water just as easily as it can mean land—or into structures on an offshore drilling platform, towers, or what have you.

Before our efforts, individual operators really didn’t know anything about what other operators were experiencing and whether they were experiencing similar issues. Previously, we had some training on that, but it really wasn’t tailored well for helicopter flight.

We knew we wanted to be able to detect and avoid obstacles better than we had been. Several organizations collaborated on how we might do something specifically tailored to help offshore helicopter flight in that regard.

We looked at a lot of data from lots of operators to determine what the common issues are, and then we worked with the manufacturers. And now the result is that, in early 2020, the first upgraded terrain-avoidance systems for offshore helicopter operations will begin operation on an AW139 helicopter. Other manufacturers and models will be adding that capability very soon.

Now, pilots offshore will get 8 to 30 ­seconds of additional warning time before a crash would occur. That’s a huge advantage. It’s like having parking sensors on your car so you don’t back into another vehicle you can’t see or didn’t notice.

ROTOR: Getting competing companies with different cultures to work together must be a challenge.

HASKINS: It’s not easy, but I think everyone involved has come to see that the purpose outweighs the obstacles.

Naturally, everyone wants to make sure their data is safe and will remain protected and confidential. So we adopted a memorandum of understanding on how we would protect that data. 

We’ve gotten lots of good support from people throughout the industry, including the oil and gas companies, whose money ultimately pays for this, to finance and build our systems.

Once we really started sharing data, our members realized they were working on many of the same things. Not only could they save money by collaborating, but we’d be getting a much better and broader set of data to analyze by sharing. And it’s working.

ROTOR: How is this approach to enhancing safety in offshore helicopter operations better than the traditional approach?

HASKINS: By having a strategy with ­accident-prevention goals, we’ve moved from compliance-based thinking on safety to safety innovation thinking. 

Our actions aren’t linked to just complying with the regulations but to having the achievement of real innovations as a value and a goal across the industry.

And we’re being careful to use the data we’re getting to define sequentially what problem areas we’ll address. We’ll identify a problem that’s impacting all our members and work on an innovative solution that we can turn into a new best practice that can be widely adopted. Then we’ll move on to another problem we’ve identified.

We can’t solve every problem at once, but we’re attacking them systematically with the goal of making real differences. 

Read More: HAI Committees Change Names, Gain Email Voting Option
January 17, 2020

The HAI Board of Directors is initiating a series of adjustments intended to bring the association in line with the best practices of similar organizations. One such change is meant to conform to general trade association standards: altering the name of HAI’s “committees” to “working groups.”
Within the structure of many associations, committees are formed by the board and comprise only board members, whereas working groups consist of other, nonboard members who perform board-directed tasks. This change, which takes effect immediately, in no way diminishes the much-appreciated efforts of HAI’s working group members.

Each HAI working group will continue to address the subjects for which it was created, and each will continue to function using its established structure and leadership. The groups assist the board in shaping the association’s policy positions; identifying industrywide practices; and providing programs that enhance safety, encourage professionalism, and foster economic viability while promoting the unique contributions vertical flight offers society.

Additionally, the HAI board has agreed to allow working group members to vote by email. This will allow them to remain close to home while participating in regular working group meetings. While at least one meeting of each group will be held every year at HAI HELI-EXPO®, subsequent meetings may take place during other events or when necessary.

For more information on HAI’s 12 working groups and their missions and members, visit rotor.org/about/working-groups. All HAI working groups will be holding public meetings in Anaheim during HAI HELI‑EXPO 2020 (please see the list above). HAI members interested in seeing how HAI working groups address industry issues—or in joining with them to create solutions—are welcome to attend.

HAI Working Group Meetings at HAI HELI-EXPO 2020
Anaheim Convention Center

Mon., Jan. 27
Technical and Maintenance
8:00 am – 4:00 pm | Room 303A

Helicopter Tour Operators
1:00 pm – 3:00 pm | Room 303B

Tue., Jan. 28
Air Medical Services
1:00 pm – 3:00 pm | Room 303B

Training
1:00 pm – 3:00 pm | Room 303A

Wed., Jan. 29
Safety
8:00 am – 9:00 am | Room 304AB

Flight Operations
8:00 am – 12:00 pm | Room 303A

Government Service
9:00 am – 11:00 am | Room 303C

Fly Neighborly / Environmental
1:30 pm – 4:30 pm | Room 303C

Unmanned Aircraft Systems
1:30 pm – 4:30 pm | Room 303B

Restricted and Experimental Category Aircraft
2:00 pm – 4:00 pm | Room 303A

Utilities, Patrol, and Construction
2:00 pm – 4:00 pm | Room 210AB

Thu., Jan. 30, 2020
Aerial Firefighting and Natural Resources
8:00 am – 9:30 am | Room 303A

Read More: 5 Best Practices for Minimizing Your Helicopter’s Noise
January 16, 2020

  1.  During level flight, accelerations are quieter than decelerations, and straight flight is quieter than turning flight. These proven techniques for operating your aircraft enable pilots to fly more quietly and reduce annoyance from noise. The continued growth of helicopter aviation requires the acceptance and support of people who live and work in your communities and who are affected by helicopter noise.
     
  2. If turning, remember that turning away from the advancing blade (especially when decelerating) is quieter than turning into the advancing blade, and level turns are quieter than descending turns. Make a daily effort to lessen the noise impact of your aircraft on the neighborhoods below your flight path. The helicopter industry’s future financial prosperity depends on your ability to fly neighborly and minimize helicopter noise impacts. Helicopter noise, and the opposition to helicopter operations it often creates, is slowing the growth of the industry.
     
  3. During a descent, straight-in flight is quieter than turning flight, and steeper approaches are quieter than shallow approaches. Don’t give people living in noise-affected areas more reasons to oppose helicopter operations, and don’t provide the noise-affected population with justification to restrict your ability to provide important services to the communities you serve and to impact your livelihood as an aviation professional.
     
  4. If decelerating, remember that level-flight decelerations are quieter than descending or turning-flight decelerations. Fly neighborly every day, always mindful of how you can reduce the noise you are creating. The public is watching and will hold you accountable for the way you operate your aircraft. Because of social media, it’s easy for noise-affected groups to circulate audio and video of your activities—and reach millions.
     
  5. While maneuvering, smooth and gentle control inputs are quieter than rapid control inputs. Fly neighborly and represent your industry responsibly. One careless pilot makes us all look bad. To a noise-affected community, one unnecessarily low-flying helicopter can represent all of us. How you operate your aircraft reflects on all who fly helicopters.

The Fly Neighborly program was officially launched by HAI in February 1982 and has since gained US and international acceptance. Fly Neighborly training was developed by HAI’s Fly Neighborly / Environmental Committee (now Working Group) and provides helicopter operators with noise abatement procedures and situational awareness tools that can be used to significantly enhance operations. Fly Neighborly training is available on the FAA Safety Team website at https://go.usa.gov/xQPCW.

Read More: Helicopter Foundation International Changes Name
January 16, 2020

Helicopter Foundation International (HFI), HAI’s charitable arm, is undergoing a name change that more closely identifies the nonprofit organization’s role in supporting HAI missions. Effective Jan. 13, 2020, the name officially changed to the HAI Foundation.

“For many years, not everyone realized that HFI is directly connected to HAI, its parent organization,” says HAI President and CEO Jim Viola, who also serves in this role for the foundation. “This name change ties the two organizations more closely together, but the foundation’s mission and goals have not changed.”

The tax-exempt foundation also shares the same Board of Directors as HAI, with the goal of “preserving and promoting the rich heritage of vertical aviation while supporting the next generation of pilots and aviation maintenance technicians.” To achieve that goal, the foundation provides programs in three mission areas: education, safety, and historic preservation.

Most recently, the foundation has focused attention on the helicopter pilot and aviation maintenance technician shortage. It commissioned the HFI–University of North Dakota study, which was the first to document the labor shortage in the helicopter industry. Since that study was released, the foundation has been active in workforce development, holding industry forums and career roundtables addressing the issue.

The foundation has also worked closely with HAI’s Government Affairs Department, helping to initiate the Utah Rotor Pathway Program and providing information and guidance to other states interested in establishing similar educational programs. The foundation also annually awards 19 scholarships for student pilots and aviation maintenance technicians.

All donations to the HAI Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization, are tax deductible in the United States. HAI HELI-EXPO 2020 offers several ways to become a donor, including a scholarship golf tournament (visit rotor.org/golf to register for this year’s Jan. 26 tournament) and an online silent auction (visit biddingforgood.com/hai Jan. 20–30). You can also make a donation at rotor.org/donate to fund the foundation’s programs in education, safety, and historic preservation.

 

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: Mars Helicopter Coming to HAI HELI-EXPO
December 10, 2019

HAI HELI-EXPO® has long been a platform for the debut of new aircraft and new technology, but a special presentation at the 2020 show in Anaheim is sure to be out of this world.

Through the efforts of NASA and its Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), the NASA Mars Helicopter is going to make a special appearance at HAI HELI-EXPO in advance of its July 2020 mission to explore Earth’s next-door neighbor. The NASA Mars 2020 mission will carry the one-of-a-kind aircraft, designed specifically for flight in the special conditions posed by the Martian environment.

Read More: Onboarding the New Guy/Gal
December 10, 2019

1. DON’T rush the settling-in process. Switching jobs is stressful, especially for young employees or recent graduates; others may have moved spouses and children across the country to take the position with your organization. You don’t want your people to be distracted by these myriad administrative and personal issues, especially for flight- and ­maintenance-related positions that require a high level of attention to detail. Help your new hires settle in and then focus on the job.

2. DO make a good first impression. You only get one chance at it. The modern workforce places value on how their organization makes them feel. Quite often, this is ranked as high as compensation, and it certainly can be a factor in retention. If you value this new hire, then act like it. If you assign a mentor, make sure she or he is there when the new employee arrives. If the individual will have an assigned workspace, make sure it’s ready and supplied appropriately. Make him or her feel like a valued member of your organization, beginning on Day 1.

3. DON’T forget to include the boss. Top-tier leadership can play an important role in the onboarding process. Besides peers and first-level supervisors, new employees should also meet with your organization’s senior leaders. Through direct interaction with top management, employees immediately gain an appreciation for their value to the organization. Additionally, it’s a great opportunity for them to hear about essential topics such as your safety culture and core values. If it’s significant enough for the boss to stop in and discuss with them, it must be important.

4. DO provide opportunities for feedback. You’re missing out on an opportunity to improve your processes if you’re not asking the new guy or gal for feedback. Scheduling meetings at preset intervals provides you with an opportunity to check in and see how they’re doing. These meetings also offer a chance to evaluate the effectiveness of your onboarding program. Asking open-ended questions and being receptive to candid feedback will help you and your new hire establish a relationship of open communication.

5. DO offer follow-on training and supervision. A lot of “stuff” gets thrown at new employees when they first show up; it’s nearly impossible for them to absorb it all. A “one-and-done” style of training is insufficient, particularly for flight- or safety-critical processes. Supervisors should expect that new hires may need extra monitoring. Provide follow-on services that reinforce that initial burst of training. Most importantly, make this a positive experience. Praise new hires who seek follow-on training; their initiative and desire to get it right demonstrate their alignment with your organizational culture.

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