Read More: Viola Assumes Leadership of HAI
January 20, 2020

Sets course for international growth and increased member services.

James A. Viola assumed the leadership of HAI on Jan. 16, 2020. As the president and CEO of the association, the seventh since its founding in 1948, Jim is responsible for carrying out the Board of Directors’ vision while overseeing the professional staff and day-to-day operations.

Jim comes to HAI after careers in the US Army, where he first learned to fly, and the FAA. In both organizations, he rose from the ranks to positions of authority. “I like to get things done, to influence things, instead of just sitting back and saying, ‘Well, I wish that hadn’t happened,’ ” says Jim.

US Army and FAA Careers

Jim’s first solo under powered flight may have occurred during army flight training at Fort Rucker, Alabama, but he also remembers fashioning cardboard wings and jumping off his friend’s garage roof as a child. Perhaps that experience also sparked his concern for aviation safety.

Jim grew up in Dunmore, Pennsylvania. After graduation, the high school track star attended college at nearby East Stroudsburg University. While still in school, Jim enlisted in the US Army Reserves, where his experience in basic training encouraged him to enroll in the US Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps.

Jim was an infantry officer when he saw an ad in the Army Times looking for second lieutenants who wanted to go to flight school. He jumped at the chance. After flight school and assignments in South Korea and with the 82nd Airborne, Jim volunteered for the elite 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment. In one of many deployments, he was sent to Somalia in 1993 (and later served as the army’s representative on the set of Black Hawk Down, the Hollywood film about the Battle of Mogadishu).

Jim concluded his army career at the rank of colonel with a stint at the Pentagon as the division chief of Army Aviation, Current Operations. Along the way, he picked up three advanced degrees, including a master’s in international relations from Auburn University and a master’s in strategic studies from the US Army War College.

Jim retired from the US Army in 2008, intent on a job in civil aviation. His goal was to set up a flight school, but he couldn’t pass up the opportunity to stay in the federal government and joined the FAA as an aviation safety inspector (ASI). Over the next several years, he rose steadily through the FAA’s Flight Standards Service, which sets, oversees, and enforces certification standards for US airmen and operators. He concluded his FAA service as the director of General Aviation Safety Assurance, responsible for overseeing safety in the US GA community.

In this post, Jim led a staff responsible for more than 2,500 FAA employees with 78 offices around the United States. During his tenure in the job, Jim attempted to address one of the aviation community’s biggest complaints: the perceived lack of standardization in FSDO operations.

“When you come to a FSDO with an issue, you shouldn’t get that FSDO’s answer; you should get the FAA’s answer—which should be explained and enforced in the same way across the country. Where you ask the question or where you apply for the certificate shouldn’t matter,” he says. Jim encouraged the FSDOs to develop shared resources, in part to create operational efficiencies and in part to develop connections between what industry wags call “the individually owned and operated” FSDOs.

In his personal life, Jim is close to his two daughters, Danielle and Shauna, and their families, including his “3.5 grandchildren”— two boys, one girl, and one on the way. He is also an active community volunteer. He is the D.C.–area representative for his university, and he regularly flies for Operation Flying Heroes, an organization that uses an OH-6 and R44 to fly combat-wounded veterans and their families. The mission is to get the service member, whose last helicopter flight was probably a medical evacuation, back in the air and to introduce their young family members to aviation.

Lifelong Aviator

A lifelong aviator, Jim holds ATP ratings for both helicopters and airplanes and is a dual-rated CFII. He has more than 6,000 hours of flight time, including 1,100 hours in night-vision goggles, and still flies regularly.

“If I can fly once a week, at least, that’s great. If I haven’t flown in a month, then I’m miserable,” he says.

Jim runs a partnership in a Grumman AG-5B Tiger that he hangars at the Montgomery County Airpark (KGAI) in Gaithersburg, Maryland, near his home in Alexandria, Virginia. “Both of my partners are working on their instrument tickets, so providing instrument instruction to them keeps me sharp. I also fly an R44 out of that airport; the owner lets me fly it whenever I want in exchange for being his safety pilot / flight instructor.”

Jim has flown more than 70 types of fixed-wing and rotary aircraft, including the following helicopter models: the Hughes TH-55 Osage, Bell UH-1 Iroquois, Bell OH-58 Kiowa (both Alpha and Charlie models), Bell AH-1 Cobra, Hughes OH-6 Cayuse, MD Helicopters MD530, Boeing CH-47 Chinook, and Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk.

Ask Jim for his favorite, and he immediately says, “The front seat in the Cobra is a great ride, especially because you got the side stick controls. Unlike most helicopters, where you have the rotor over your head, the Cobra’s front seat is way in front of the aircraft’s center of gravity, so you’re just out there. I love the front seat in a Cobra.”

But Jim can’t stop there. “If you want to ride a motorcycle, then you get the MD 530, five blades and plenty of horsepower. You feel like you can just strap it on your back, and you can get in and out of tight spots. If it’s a really nasty, bad-weather day, then you can get in a Chinook and go IFR high and far, especially with the MH-47’s air-to-air refueling capability, where I could get gas on the go at 110 knots.”

Solving Problems for People

During Jim’s career, he has consistently gravitated to positions of leadership. “I was always very interested in being a teacher. In fact, that’s originally what I thought I’d go to college for. I really enjoy being a flight instructor, which I was certified for as a civilian, not in the military. Being able to have someone walk in with zero knowledge and then seeing them do a solo and  then get a rating—it’s very rewarding.”

Military service also had its teaching moments. “As a military officer, a lot of responsibility for education comes with the job. Being a commander is really about teaching your soldiers and pilots how to do the right things and do them well. Prior to the FAA, I had planned to become a designated pilot examiner, which again is really about the training and certification of pilots and helping that pilot maintain his or her proficiencies.

“But inside the FAA as an ASI I quickly realized that to achieve some of the changes that I thought were necessary, doing it one pilot at a time was not going to work,” Jim says. “So that’s when I decided to focus on moving up in the organization to get to positions that would deliver a wider sphere of influence.

“Working at the Pentagon was challenging, but it was very educational for me to go to the highest level of my organization and see how it operates. I basically did the same thing at the FAA, starting out as an ASI and then working my way back to headquarters. In each case, I then did my best to support the folks in the field, using my knowledge of how both field and headquarters work.”

An individual member of HAI since 2008, Jim intends to use the same approach now that he’s the association’s president and CEO. “What I plan on now is to take my knowledge of working at the highest levels of US aviation and then expanding that to the international level. How can HAI, as an association, best represent the membership around the world and be proactive to where the industry is going?”

In fact, Jim has a few ideas on the future direction of the industry. “First, I think we need to do better with the integration of drone operators. In my view, we want to as soon as possible have unmanned vehicles do all of our dirty, dull, and dangerous work, so we don’t put humans in jeopardy. And because the US aviation rules have been fairly restrictive, there is a lot we can learn from the drone industries in other countries.”

There is also the challenge posed by the rapid changes in aviation. “The world has changed a lot in the last 10 years, and it’s going to change more in the next 10,” says Jim. “General aviation is increasingly incorporating all sorts of aircraft that aren’t strictly helicopters, including drones and autonomous vehicles. I favor an approach where we gather under our umbrella not just helicopters, but all the aircraft that fit our operational profile: everything that operates at low altitudes, is capable of vertical takeoff and landing, and is not restricted to airports.”

Another big issue concerns the attempts to weaken the FAA’s authority over the US airspace. “That would be very bad because that’s one thing that we do so well in the United States and why we have the safest skies in the world. If we had to administer airspace on a state-by-state basis, it would be a nightmare. And that’s why HAI has been such a strong opponent of these proposals for local control of airspace.”

Vision for HAI

As part of the selection process, Jim presented to the Board of Directors a vision for HAI’s future. They obviously liked what they saw, but Jim says that vision needs to be developed further before it can be turned into a strategic plan for the organization.

“I put this vision together as part of the recruitment process. It was a great exercise for me as a candidate and for the board. Now I need to go back to the staff and members to ensure that this is a vision that is actionable and, most importantly, reflects what the members want and need. To succeed, it has to be a shared vision for the entire organization.”

When asked if he has a specific message for HAI members, Jim says, “I’d really like to know what keeps them up at night. How can HAI help them? That’s our job as an association, to take the weight off of our members. They can concentrate on what they need to do, knowing that we have a handle on the issue and HAI is going to work for them.”

Jim welcomes feedback from the members; feel free to start a conversation by sending your message to him at president@rotor.org.

Read More: Living with ADS-B
January 20, 2020

Your questions about the new FAA regulation answered.

It’s 2020, and the Jan. 1 ADS-B implementation date we’ve been talking about since 2010 has finally come and gone.

I know what you may be thinking: “not another ADS-B article.” Well, it’s not my intention to lay out another history of ADS-B or describe what you need to equip. There are countless articles and website resources about those topics (see, for example, from Fall 2018 ROTOR, “ADS-B: It’s Crunch Time,” bit.ly/2Qa6a1U).

But if you’re like many members who’ve contacted HAI, you may still have questions about the new rule. Let’s try to address the most common ones here.

What if I fly through ADS-B Out rule airspace without the proper equipment?

I can’t speak for the FAA, but I suspect that if you fly without the proper equipment, you’ll have to answer to someone at the agency and that some type of enforcement action will certainly be a potential outcome. However, if you didn’t willfully violate the new regulation, the FAA might choose to issue you a compliance action instead. Under the FAA’s Compliance Program and the just culture that underlies it, you may be able to avoid being assessed a violation by agreeing to the terms of the compliance action, such as completing retraining or counseling, perhaps at some cost to you. (See a related story from Fall 2018 ROTOR, “After the Violation of an FAR,” bit.ly/FARViolation.)

What if I need to operate in an area covered by ADS-B Out but I don’t have the equipment installed or it’s inoperative?

You may be able to get an exception from the FAA, called a deviation, to operate without ADS-B equipment under certain conditions and at certain times of day. To learn more about deviations and how to request one, check out the FAA’s Statement of Policy for Authorizations to Operators of Aircraft that are Not Equipped with Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast Out Equipment (bit.ly/FAA_Policy). This document, published in April 2019, does a very good job of clearly explaining the policy and laying out much of its background.

The FAA’s authority to grant ADS-B Out deviations is described under Title 14 CFR 91.225(g), which states that deviation requests must be made to the “ATC [air traffic control] facility having jurisdiction over the concerned airspace.” Section 91.255(g) also specifies a couple of submission time lines based on your circumstances.

The first time line is for aircraft with inoperative ADS-B Out equipment: you’ve installed it on your aircraft, but for some reason it’s not working that day. In those situations, for operation “to the airport of ultimate destination, including any intermediate stops, or to proceed to a place where suitable repairs can be made or both, the request may be made at any time.”

The second time line applies to aircraft that aren’t equipped with ADS-B Out capability. A deviation to operate an unequipped aircraft may be requested but must be made at least one hour “before the proposed operation.” Also, these requests may not be submitted more than 24 hours prior to the proposed flight.

How do I submit a request for deviation?

The tool established by the FAA that allows you to make deviation requests is the ADS-B Deviation Authorization Pre-Flight Tool (ADAPT). The tool is Web-based and can be found on the FAA’s website at faa.gov/nextgen/equipadsb/adapt.

All civil aircraft operators can use ADAPT, but the design of the tool was based on the projected needs of Part 91 operators. What this means is that the tool can be used by, for example, a Part 135 operator, but it’s not intended for routine or otherwise scheduled operations. The FAA has very clearly stated that ADAPT wasn’t designed to enable operators to skirt ADS-B Out requirements.

This all sounds complicated.
How does ADAPT work?

It’s really not so bad. When you enter ADAPT, your first step will be to input your flight information in the Flight Information Entry section of the tool. You’ll recognize the section, as it looks very much like the old FAA flight plan we used for years.

The information you enter will be used in an initial analysis to determine whether you even need a deviation. If it’s determined that you do, you’ll be directed to the next Web page, where you’ll enter additional details about your intended flight before you submit your request to the FAA for consideration.

One important note: you must make sure the email address you provide is correct. That’s critical because the FAA’s official approval of your request will be delivered ONLY to that email address.

What should I expect to hear back from the FAA?

Once you’ve submitted your deviation request, you’ll get one of three responses from the FAA: approved, denied, or pending.

For an approved request, you’ll receive an email that provides the approval, plain and simple. Make sure you keep this correspondence, as it’s the official record of the request and approval.

If you receive a denied response, it simply means the flight couldn’t be approved as requested. Unfortunately, the FAA won’t be able to specify in the notice exactly why your request was denied. It may be possible to gain approval of the deviation by resubmitting your request using a different flight route, time of flight, and so on, that may be acceptable to the ATC facility with approval authority. In other circumstances, such as an inoperative transponder with altitude encoding (which should be installed for an ADAPT approval), the system may automatically deny the request every time.

Finally, if you receive a pending response, it’s just letting you know that some degree of manual review is necessary on the FAA’s part. This could be for several reasons. The bottom line for the submitter is that it will just take a little more time to receive a more definitive response.

It’s also important to note that ADAPT has been in development for quite some time, and the FAA smartly leveraged several industry professionals and associations to build and test an effective tool and to ensure its smooth launch. Our industry was an active participant in the development of the ADAPT program, a testament to the FAA’s continued commitment to sustaining strong partnerships with the aviation community. Finally, if you have ideas for improving the system, the agency has a feedback tool on its website.

What resources does the FAA have that could help me better understand and comply with ADS-B Out?

The ADAPT website offers several resources to walk you through the submission process, including a tutorial video and a user guide. In addition, the agency has assumed a very proactive outreach position, making itself available to answer questions and closely partnering with aviation groups. You’ll also see FAA ADS-B representatives at aviation industry events, including HAI HELI-EXPO 2020 in Anaheim. In fact, FAA representatives will lead an ADS-B update at Expo on Tue., Jan. 28, from 1:00 pm to 2:00 pm at the Anaheim Convention Center.

The point is, there are several great resources to help you through your ADS-B transition, and I highly recommend you familiarize yourself with them. At HAI, we’ve learned that the more you work with regulatory issues, the less complex they become. I think you’ll find the same to be true of ADAPT.

Read More: Best Practices for Preflight Inspection and Cargo Security
January 20, 2020

It’s a basic task for pilots—and a fundamental part of flight safety.

The US Helicopter Safety Team (USHST) has reviewed 123 fatal accidents that occurred between 2009 and 2013 to find common causal factors and develop recommendations for reducing those risks. The resulting recommendations for safety improvements are called Helicopter Safety Enhancements (H-SE) (learn more at ushst.org).

One of these enhancements is H-SE #28, Helicopter Final Walk-Around and Security of External Cargo. This enhancement resulted from several fatal accidents where the pilots’ failure to conduct a proper preflight inspection and walk-around were causal factors. You would think that this is Helicopter 101, but pilots are still killing themselves and others by not properly addressing this task.

H-SE #28 derives directly from 14 CFR 91.7, which states, “The pilot in command of a civil aircraft is responsible for determining whether that aircraft is in condition for safe flight.” An adequate preflight inspection and final walk-around are key to fulfilling this responsibility. Postflight inspection can also help to identify issues prior to the next flight.

Better guidance on how and why to conduct a proper preflight and walk-around, as well as increased attention to their importance, may mitigate such events in the future. Therefore, the USHST, with the help of helicopter operators, safety professionals, aircraft manufacturers, and the HAI Safety Working Group, has developed guidance to reinforce the basic pilot skills used in conducting these inspections.

The list is not all inclusive, and each recommendation can be expanded per pilot preference. Going back to basics may sound elementary, but refocusing on these basic tasks will help reduce helicopter accidents and save lives.

Recommended Practices for Helicopter Preflight Inspection, Final Walk-Around, and Postflight Inspection

No Rushing. Allow adequate time to conduct mission planning and preflight inspections. Don’t rush these flight-critical tasks.

No Distractions. Enforce a “no distraction” policy during preflight inspections. This includes unnecessary conversations, eating or drinking, or using technology devices for purposes not directly related to the preflight inspection.

No Interruptions. Avoid interruptions during a preflight inspection. If interrupted during a preflight, before resuming the inspection, go back at least two steps before the interruption occurred. If you can’t recall where that is, start from the beginning.

Formal Checklist. Refer to a printed or electronic checklist during preflight inspections, noting steps completed or items of concern.

Preflight Kit. Prepare and make available a preflight kit that includes all materials needed to ensure a complete inspection, including flashlights, gloves, printed or electronic copies of the preflight inspection checklist, and any other tools or materials needed to assess the aircraft, including work stands or ladders. Include the preflight kit in your tool control program.

FRAT. Update your flight risk assessment tool (FRAT) score to reflect any items of concern discovered during the preflight inspection. Operators, add a section to your FRAT that prompts pilots to include preflight items.

Pilot Briefing. The pilot in command, not just ground-operation personnel, must conduct a preflight briefing for passengers.

Solid Footing. Watch out when stepping on aircraft surfaces, even nonskid ones, particularly when they’re wet. Always use two points of contact.

Secure Aircraft. Conduct a thorough assessment of all readily accessible areas during preflight inspections. Ensure  that panels, cargo, and passenger doors are secured. During adverse weather or environmental conditions, take extra care to ensure these checks are completed.

Rotor Clearance. Ensure that both main and tail rotor covers and tie-downs are removed and securely stowed. Verify that blade-tip paths are clear of potential obstacles. Before you manually move a rotor blade, provide an audible alert so that other personnel can maintain a safe distance.

Ground-Handling Wheels. Remove and securely stow ground-handling wheels.

Fuel Cap. Always check that fuel caps are securely fastened.

Fuel Level. Use a trusted method, such as a dipstick, to visually verify your fuel level. Don’t use the aircraft fuel gauge as your sole method of verifying fuel levels.

Red Flag. Place a clear warning indicator, such as a red cover, over the cyclic or seat of the aircraft awaiting a preflight inspection. Pilots may remove it only after completing a thorough preflight and final walk-around inspection. Verify that flight control covers or other warning devices don’t indicate a grounding condition.

Flight Controls. Verify that all red flags are removed and that flight controls are in the correct position and setting before starting the aircraft. Pay particular attention to the throttle setting to prevent a hot start.

Personal Items. Ensure that all personnel secure headgear and other personal items when on the flight line.

Final Walk-around. After completing the preflight inspection, conduct a final walk-around before getting into the aircraft. A pilot or trained crew member should always be the last person to get into the aircraft.

Final Rotor Check. Before starting the aircraft, perform a final visual confirmation that the main and tail rotors are untied and tip paths are clear of any obstacles.

Postflight Inspection. Conduct a postflight inspection of aircraft, looking for fluids, unusual wear, or damage to aircraft. 
 

Read More: The Return of Single-Engine IFR Helicopters
January 20, 2020

Bell and Leonardo bring IFR-capable aircraft to market.

This past summer, our industry welcomed back an old friend, one that hadn’t been seen in the US market since 1999: the single-engine helicopter certificated for flight under IFR conditions (SE-IFR). In July 2019, Leonardo received an FAA supplemental type certificate (STC) for the first SE-IFR helicopter in more than two decades, the TH-119. Less than a month later, Bell received an STC for its 407 GXi to operate under instrument flight rules.

It’s no coincidence that both of these exciting new entrants arrived so recently. These first certifications are the culmination of decades of work behind the scenes, in both technology and regulation. The paths the two manufacturers took to certification, however, are vastly different.

SE-IFR: A History

To truly understand the SE-IFR issue, it’s important to understand how we got here.

Helicopter flight rules for instrument conditions made their first appearance in the 1970s. At the time, single-engine rotorcraft conducted IFR flights regularly, well before the advent of GPS, glass cockpits, and digital autopilot systems. The rules these helicopters were certificated under, found in Appendix B of 14 CFR Part 27, Airworthiness Standards: Normal Category Rotorcraft, hadn’t changed significantly since the early 1980s.

In 1999, the FAA issued AC 27-1B, Certification of Normal Category Rotorcraft. This document, which was a total revision of AC 27-1A, issued in 1997, dictated the extinction of SE-IFR rotorcraft.

AC 27-1B in essence incorporated into Part 27 numerical safety analysis methods as a way of determining OEM compliance in meeting safety standards. The advisory circular (AC) required helicopter manufacturers to prove that critical aircraft systems had an “extremely improbable” failure rate of one in 1 billion. In other words, OEMs had to demonstrate that these systems would incur only one failure in 1 billion hours of runtime. Any critical onboard system that couldn’t meet this failure rate was required to be duplicated, with redundancy providing an additional safety margin.

Overnight, single-engine IFR helicopters became cost and weight prohibitive.

In 2003, AC-1B was revised again, raising the bar even higher. This time, the AC defined loss of function of attitude, airspeed, or barometric altitude instruments, or conditions that would cause those instruments to issue hazardously misleading readings, as individually “catastrophic” when operating in instrument conditions. Industry interpretation of this change was that triple-redundant systems would now be required.

At the same time the 2003 AC was issued, Part 23 single-­engine airplane manufacturers received relief from these new requirements: SE-IFR airplanes were required to meet a probability of one in 1 million before being subject to duplicate systems. In response, new aircraft came on the scene, like the Cirrus SR-series, that deployed the latest GPS, glass cockpits, and autopilot technology. This relief wasn’t extended to the helicopter industry, however, in part because the latter was still a long way off from meeting even this lower probability requirement.

“There are several reasons why regulation changes for small light airplanes couldn’t be extended to helicopters at the time,” says Harold Summers, director of flight operations and technical services at HAI. “Helicopters aren’t inherently stable like airplanes. There also was a great deal of work needed to prove that the aircraft could be safely flown in IFR conditions without all the redundancies. The advanced, lighter technology for helicopters hadn’t yet caught up.”

Industry Asks for Change

In 2015, with support from partner associations, the helicopter industry petitioned the FAA to consider reducing certification barriers for SE-IFR helicopters. In the 16 years since the publication of AC 27-1B, a number of important technologies, including WAAS (wide area augmentation systems), GPS, cell phones, tablets, and flight planning apps, had been introduced, all available in affordable, lightweight, consumer-­friendly packages. The industry was finally in a position to meet the same one in 1 million standard as light airplanes.

In the summer of 2015, HAI, AHS International (rebranded in 2018 as the Vertical Flight Society, or VFS), the General Aviation Manufacturers Association, and the Aircraft Electronics Association published the 14 CFR 27 Single-Engine IFR Certification Proposal, an association and industry white paper (bit.ly/SE-IFR). The proposal explicitly linked improving helicopter safety to facilitating an economically viable certification plan for SE-IFR helicopters and expanding IFR operations.

The paper referenced worldwide helicopter accidents related to flights in marginal VFR (MVFR) and inadvertent entry into instrument meteorological conditions (IIMC). The authors argued that more accidents (194), and resulting fatalities (326), occurred from 2001 to 2013 from pilots being ill-equipped for MVFR and IIMC conditions than would have occurred from the expected failure rates of SE-IFR helicopter systems.

“The lack of SE-IFR helicopters developed a dangerous culture in our industry,” explains Paul Schaaf, former HAI vice president of operations and the HAI lead for the white paper. “Pilots needed to get their instrument rating to get a job, but very few used it again if they flew single-engine operations. Few companies kept their pilots’ instrument skills strong. Add to that the pressures to get the job done if there’s any chance of VFR, and it’s a recipe for disaster. 

“We argued that the probability of IIMC and controlled flight into terrain was higher than any probability of equipment failure,” Schaaf continues. “By allowing SE-IFR helicopters, we could save lives.”

The white paper addressed six key concerns with the FAA’s certification standards for SE-IFR helicopters:

  • Use one in 1 million as the failure rate that would require redundant systems in lighter SE helicopters rather than the original FAA standard rate of one in 1 billion
  • Allow generic high-intensity radiated field (HIRF) testing based on established construction techniques (ambiguities in the then-current Part 27 language required testing on a case-by-case basis each time a new piece of equipment was added)
  • Allow a single hydraulic system when aircraft can be shown through rigorous testing to be flyable without hydraulics
  • Reduce the requirement for three navigation communication systems to two
  • Reduce the requirement for dual pitot–static systems to one
  • Allow a battery to be considered as a second electrical generation system.

In 2017, the FAA released policy statement PS-ASW-27-15, Safety Continuum for Part 27 Normal Category Rotorcraft Systems and Equipment, which adopted some of the processes and concepts recommended in the white paper. With the publication of the Safety Continuum, the FAA officially recognized that safety and risk must be balanced across a wide spectrum of aircraft and operations, specifically calling out aircraft weight and propulsion type, whether passengers are flown for hire, and societal expectations as major factors in airworthiness decisions. 

The FAA saw the Safety Continuum as a way to “facilitate a more rapid incorporation of advances in technology for systems and equipment by recognizing a balanced approach between the risk and safety benefits [of] installing such technology.”

Through the FAA’s Safety Continuum process, helicopter manufacturers received relief in failure probabilities and can now request waivers from the AC 27-1B requirements by submitting issue papers. After close review, the FAA can decide whether to issue the waivers.

Read More: Zuccaro Retires as HAI President and CEO
January 20, 2020

Tenure marked by financial growth and safety advocacy.

It’s the end of an era at HAI, as the association bids farewell to its sixth president, Matthew S. Zuccaro. Matt officially retired on Jan. 15, 2020, although he will still attend HAI HELI-EXPO 2020 as a consultant for the HAI Board of Directors.

Matt joined the HAI professional staff in November 2005, after a long career as a pilot, operator, and aviation executive, including a stint as chairman of the HAI Board of Directors in 1991 (turn to p. 40 for more on Matt’s career prior to 2005). As president and CEO, he was responsible for executing the vision of the HAI Board of Directors and overseeing the day-to-day operations of the association.

Since 2005, under Matt’s leadership, the association has grown HAI HELI-EXPO® into the world’s largest helicopter trade show. When HAI outgrew its headquarters, Matt led the effort to purchase a four-story office building in Alexandria, Virginia, where the association is headquartered today. Both moves were part of a strategy to provide the association with a stable financial foundation that would underwrite its membership services.

During Matt’s tenure, HAI has been a forceful advocate for its members on regulatory and legislative issues. When topics such as veterans’ flight-training benefits, air traffic control privatization, user fees, and the safe integration of drones into the airspace were debated, Matt and his team were there—frequently as the only ones representing the helicopter industry’s concerns.

HAI has also actively worked across the entire aviation spectrum to improve safety in helicopter operations. From brokering the successful launch of ADS-B services in the Gulf of Mexico in 2009, to serving as the industry co-chair of the International Helicopter Safety Foundation, to providing safety tools, education, and resources for pilots, operators, and mechanics and engineers, Matt has left no doubt that safety is a core value for HAI.

Read More: Community Engagement: The LA Helicopter Success Story
December 10, 2019

Southern California rotorcraft operators, pilots address community concerns over noise.

This is a good-news, everybody-wins success story in an industry that needs one. Once operating under a congressional mandate to address helicopter noise issues in the greater Los Angeles area, the LA helicopter industry has successfully staved off the looming threat of being regulated out of existence.

Led by volunteers from the Professional Helicopter Pilots Association (PHPA) and the Los Angeles Area Helicopter Operators Association (LAAHOA)—both proud HAI affiliates—LA-area pilots and operators accomplished this victory the hard way: They listened to what the other side had to say. They documented the problems. They conducted extensive outreach and education efforts with homeowner groups and legislators. They also worked to educate the LA rotorcraft community about the importance of minimizing their noise impact—and provided specific techniques for how to do that.

Hard work, yes, but with a big payoff. The once-tense relationship between homeowner groups and the helicopter community has improved so much that in April 2019 they joined together to request that the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors allocate funds to continue operation of the Automated Helicopter Noise Complaint System (ACS).

You are likely asking why on earth any self-respecting helicopter pilot would advocate for a way to make it easier for people to complain about their flights. To understand this, let’s look at how we got to where we are today.

Read More: Helicopter OEMs Bring Aviation Experience to UAM Arena
December 10, 2019

Flying taxis in 2023? Aircraft manufacturers say, "Not so fast."

Not since the 1940s and 1950s have so many companies been working so feverishly on new ways to fly from one place to another.

Around 70 years ago, dozens and dozens of companies—from well-established manufacturers to thinly financed entrepreneurs working out of their barns and tool sheds—were rushing to bring to market workable and economically viable vehicles called “helicopters.” What that new aircraft would look like and how it would operate was still very much in flux. (You can read more about that period in helicopter history—when a collective might be a ­re­purposed motorcycle grip or resemble bicycle handlebars suspended from the roof of the cockpit—in the Trailblazers section of the Helicopter Foundation International website,)

Now, a similarly large contingent of companies—more than 150 at last count—is seeking to build what will be the first successful “flying taxis,” or urban air mobility (UAM) vehicles. These efforts range from shoestring attempts mounted by experienced but cash-poor engineers to the self-financed passion projects of billionaires to high-visibility programs mounted by Fortune 500 public companies.

Not all of these would-be makers of flying taxis will succeed. But perhaps a half dozen or more may introduce vehicles capable of flying one or two people, or some relatively light cargo, around major metropolitan areas. Other companies now toiling on potential UAM aircraft almost certainly will be able to sell some of their expertise, research findings, and technical innovations to better-financed, more experienced companies that eventually will become serious competitors in the fledgling market.

There’s also substantial likelihood that long-respected and deep-­pocketed aviation manufacturers—particularly those with considerable experience building helicopters—will take over development of UAM aircraft or otherwise acquire the technologies necessary to mass-produce them. In any case, however the market sorts itself out, it inevitably will take a few years longer than was originally forecast.

Read More: One Flight at a Time
December 10, 2019

It’s early June in Orem, Utah, 6,000 feet above sea level, 45 miles south of Salt Lake City, and a warm day barely breaks 70 degrees. To the northeast, rising another mile into the clear blue sky, is Mount Timpanogos, second-highest peak in the Wasatch Range, its rocky slopes speckled with trees and still draped in snow. I’m too far away to smell the Great Salt Lake, but not so far that the sky doesn’t sport clusters of gulls riding a breeze from the north.

Occasionally, a helicopter takes people to explore the mountain.

For some, it’s the start of a journey.

Read More: Understanding Your Aircraft Systems
December 10, 2019

Knowing how your ship works gives you more options when mechanical issues arise.

During my time as a helicopter flight instructor, I stressed to my students the importance of learning, in great detail, the systems of the aircraft they were flying. Pilots who know their aircraft’s systems are better equipped to both detect and troubleshoot mechanical issues.

This belief stems in part from my own training, both flight and A&P, where many of my instructors were seasoned World War II pilots and mechanics—two piloted Boeing B-17s, and another served as a flight engineer on the massive Convair B-36. (If you have a chance, take a look at the flight engineer’s panel in the movie Six Turning, Four Burning to grasp the complexity of the B-36 systems.) My instructors’ knowledge of aircraft systems was extraordinary, and they would regularly share with student pilots and mechanics the importance of knowing all you can about aircraft systems.

Aircraft Systems and Components

Let’s start with the basics. You should be able to answer the following questions about the function and operation of each of the essential systems and components listed in “Light piston helicopters,” below:

  • What is it?
  • What does it do?
  • How does it do it?

Read More: Jan Becker: Leading the Way
September 03, 2019

First female, international chair in decades sees new opportunity for HAI.

Jan Becker is a dizzying mix of practical skills and boundary-pushing innovator, a combination not always seen together. Consider her various positions: registered nurse and midwife; commercial helicopter pilot; CEO of Becker Helicopters, an Australian helicopter operator and flight school; founder of Midwife Vision, a charity supporting child and maternal health in Tanzania; and PhD candidate studying the role of midwives in sub-Saharan Africa.

On July 1 of this year, Jan added yet another role to the mix: she is the 2019–20 chair of HAI. Jan is not the first woman or first non-US citizen to lead the association, but she is the first to do so in decades. And if Jan has anything to do with it, she won’t be the last.

 

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