Read More: FlyOver
June 10, 2019

Airbus Helicopters | H135;
HAI HELI-EXPO 2019 | Atlanta, Georgia | March 6, 2019;
AH North America Chief Pilot Toby Hart (L);
AH North America Senior Test Pilot Matt Evans (R).

Photo by Mark Bennett


Read More: Middle Georgia State University: A Successful Model for Aviation Education
June 10, 2019

Georgia's best-kept secret in aviation training.

The choice of where to receive your initial flight or maintenance training will affect your entire aviation career. The contacts you make, the quality of your instructors, the habits and attitudes you acquire—these will follow you for years.

One example of the collegiate model for aviation training is the School of Aviation at Middle Georgia State University (MGA). Offering a wide variety of certificates and majors, this school has a vibrant community of students preparing to take their place in the aviation industry.

Serving the Entire Aviation Community

While other MGA campuses also offer flight training, its Eastman Campus, home to the MGA School of Aviation, is devoted to aviation studies. When you visit the campus, it’s hard to miss the aviation connection. The Piper Aztec located near the front entrance of the school is one giveaway, as is the control tower and the runway that runs parallel to the campus.

The 22-acre campus contains hangars for the school’s 30 airplanes and four helicopters (three Guimbal Cabri G2s and a Robinson R44). The average age of the fleet is under 10 years old; all aircraft have glass cockpits. The School of Aviation has its own maintenance and refurbishment facilities and employs licensed A&Ps to keep the fleet running. They complete all maintenance and repairs except for avionics, which go to a local avionics shop.

The primary academic building contains academic classrooms, maintenance and air traffic control classrooms, and a dispatch center. A 147-room residence hall provides on-campus housing for students.

In addition to several fixed-wing flight training devices, MGA recently purchased an Elite TH-100 flight simulator, which is used for instrument training  by helicopter student pilots. “We find that simulators are great teaching tools, in part because of the opportunity for immediate feedback,” says School of Aviation Dean Adon Clark. “If you’re in the pattern and there’s a problem, you still have to fly the aircraft while you’re trying to listen to your instructor, whereas with a simulator, you can pause, discuss what just happened, and then we can back it right up and start over.”

The Eastman campus hosts 739 students pursuing a variety of aviation majors, everything from helicopter flight technology to management. Enrollments are up, to the point where the school may soon establish a waiting list for some programs.

In addition to being an approved Part 147 aviation maintenance school, MGA offers two-year degrees in both aviation structural technology and aviation maintenance technology, as well as a four-year degree in technical management. Out of the school’s current enrollment, 135 students are pursuing degrees in aircraft maintenance and 25 are studying aircraft structural technology. 

MGA also offers academic credit for some FAA qualifications. This provides seasoned aviation maintenance technicians with the opportunity to build their academic credentials and move into management while leveraging their knowledge and experience. 

The Eastman campus features its own state-of-the-art facility for air traffic management students; the school offers an associate’s degree in air traffic management with a current enrollment of 35 students. As part of the FAA’s Collegiate Training Initiative (CTI), graduates of the MGA program are eligible to bypass the Air Traffic Basics Course, which is the first five weeks of qualification training at the FAA Academy in Oklahoma City. MGA graduates are also eligible for Pool 1 hiring by the FAA, along with military veterans; applicants from the general population are assigned to Pool  2.

MGA is a Part 141 approved flight school. In addition to earning commercial, instrument, multiengine, ATP, and CFI ratings, students can receive a bachelor’s degree in aviation science and management, with concentrations in flight, management, or helicopter flight. MGA has 422 flight students, 10 of which are pursuing helicopter ratings. The flight training program logged 14,000 flight hours last year.

Clark believes MGA students benefit by living, working, and socializing together. “Everyone on the Eastman campus is an aviation student. A pilot may be roommates with an aircraft mechanic student or an aircraft traffic controller. Or there may be a mechanic, air traffic controller, and pilot all in the same class, so they get exposed to all aspects of aviation through their roommates, classmates, and schoolmates.”

This exposure helps MGA students to better understand each other’s work and the challenges they face. “I think it’s vital that they learn to communicate early on with each other,” says Clark. “Our pilots are comfortable talking to a mechanic on the floor if there’s an issue with the aircraft, or it’s easier for a mechanic to explain a process to a pilot. They have been interacting with these types of folks throughout their collegiate career.”

Read More: HAI HELI-EXPO 2019: The View from the Exhibit Floor
June 10, 2019

Innovations keep the helicopter industry looking toward the future.

An optimistic mood prevailed at HAI HELI‑EXPO 2019 in Atlanta as attendees and exhibitors kept an eye on a rapidly changing future. While hopes had been high for a faster turnaround, it was clear on the show floor that the helicopter industry's economic recovery is proceeding more slowly than many would like. Yet this slower growth has created a unique opportunity: innovation.

“The industry is certainly better than it was but not as good as it could be,” Safran USA President Peter Lengyel says, summing up the overarching theme for this year’s helicopter show. “What I see is this strategic pause, where companies have the time and financial resources to focus on innovative changes that can be brought to the industry. You don’t have the time for this in a fast-growing economy.”

Here’s a look at some of the business highlights of HAI HELI‑EXPO 2019.

Read More: HAI Does ATL
June 10, 2019

It takes a city to make a village, and it happens every year.

First come the crates. Cubes and tubes of every size, heft and, notably, point of origin. Some are beautifully crafted, with interesting woods, careful joinery, and on-brand markings. Others less so, with utilitarian materials and slapdash scrawls.

They arrive by truck, perhaps, or by train, steamship, or plane. From the loading dock, they are unceremoniously whisked to an appointed address and deposited on a bare concrete fl oor.

Soon this will be a bustling community, alive with people looking for their next deal or supplier, sure, but also with old friends and new, telling tales, catching up, planning for the year ahead.

But first come the crates.

Welcome to HAI HELI-EXPO 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia, USA.


Read More: eVTOL 101
May 23, 2019

What you need to know about the "future of vertical flight."

The newest player in transportation technology is the electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft and its projected use for air taxis and urban air mobility (UAM).

At HAI HELI-EXPO 2019 in Atlanta, eVTOL appeared in everything from panel discussions and education sessions to prototypes on the show floor. One panel discussion, The Electric VTOL Revolution, hosted by the Vertical Flight Society, brought together leaders in eVTOL to discuss where the industry stands now and where it’s headed in the future.

Why eVTOL and UAM?

eVTOL describes any type of aircraft that takes off and lands vertically using electric or hybrid-electric propulsion. This covers everything from ultralights and personal air vehicles to future air-taxi models such as the Bell Nexus.

eVTOLs could be used in many missions that helicopters already do, from package delivery to disaster relief. But eVTOL designers and manufacturers point to the technology’s advantages over traditional aircraft: eVTOLs could be more cost-efficient to operate and could carry increased payloads, all while reducing noise.

UAM is only one future application for those vehicles. Like most new technologies, UAM is being developed to solve a problem: “If I live in a city with impossible automobile traffic that can’t support more ground transportation infrastructure, can I bring my daily commute to the sky to get around quickly and efficiently?”

Why Now?

“eVTOL has exciting potential that we think will revolutionize not only vertical flight, but society as a whole,” says Mike Hirschberg, executive director of the Vertical Flight Society. “We have been examining the potential for eVTOL for six years, and it’s not a matter of if it’s going to happen—it’s a matter of when.”

Hirschberg explains that the time to explore and embrace this technology is now. “We are currently experiencing huge advances in electric motors and batteries, as well as the modernization of design tools, computer simulation of fuselages, and all aspects of flight control that we didn’t have five to 10 years ago,” says Hirschberg. “There has even been discussion about moving to performance-based regulations and certification for aircraft, which would be a major game changer.”

“We think about the question of ‘why now?’ a lot at Bell,” says Scott Drennan, vice president of Bell’s innovation team. “We see this as market demand and technology coming together at the same time.”

Read More: New Products from HAI HELI-EXPO 2019
May 23, 2019

Small businesses bring innovative products to the industry.

While news from large companies dominated the daily headlines at HAI HELI‑EXPO 2019, the industry’s small-business ­innovators had their own stories to tell. From safety programs to inventive crew resource management solutions, new products and services supporting everyone from pilots and operators to OEMs made their debut on the show floor. Below is a sampling of the small-business creative spirit that keeps our industry growing.

New Services

HeliExperts International: Heliport Safety Certification

With no universal oversight regulations, heliports around the world vary considerably in level of safety. HeliExperts International (HEI) launched its Heliport Safety and Certification Program at HAI HELI‑EXPO 2019 to address critical industry needs for increased heliport risk mitigation. Using best practices from the FAA, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), and industry leaders, the program seeks to identify risks before they can cause an accident.

“Without standardized heliport regulations regarding heliport safety, the vast majority of heliports contain significant safety risks,” says HEI Managing Member Ray Syms, whose company has designed more than 850 heliports and audited more than 3,000. “The idea behind the program is to provide a solution for operators, insurance companies, and ­municipalities to determine if heliport risks are mitigated to the highest degree possible.” For more information, visit the company's website at www.heliexperts​​

Napoleon Engineering Services: Bearing Engineering

With OEM supply-chain headaches slowing deliveries, manufacturers are bringing more services in-house to meet customer deadlines. Napoleon Engineering Services offers a unique service: reverse engineering type-certified bearings in support of parts manufacturing approval authorization.

“Our mission is to remove barriers to supply chains due to the difficulty in obtaining bearings,” says Chris Napoleon, president and chief engineer at Napoleon Engineering Services. “We reduce lead times to 16–26 weeks, compared to OEM lead times that are typically 50–90 weeks.”

The company typically performs reverse engineering services in about six weeks, delivering a full technical packet for submission to the FAA. Napoleon Engineering also offers full bearing manufacturing capability with the ability to manufacture bearings with outside diameters between ¾ inch and 14 inches. For more information, visit  www.nes​

New Programs

Flightdocs: Cloud-Based Flight Operations Platform

Flightdocs unveiled its Flightdocs Operations tracking and communications platform. Flightdocs Operations integrates with the company’s popular Flightdocs HMX maintenance tracking platform, currently used by more than 200 operators for more than 1,000 helicopters, to create a complete end-to-end operations management solution for helicopter operators. The platform’s core functions include flight scheduling, service planning, crew and passenger management, customizable flight logs, and expense reporting, and includes a secure messenger communication tool.

“Flightdocs Operations is the modern, cloud-based, real-time mobile platform our customers have been requesting,” says Flightdocs President Greg Heine. According to Heine, 12 companies were already signed up for the program by the first day of HAI HELI‑EXPO 2019. For more information, visit

New Products

Eye in the Sky: Cockpit Data Recorder

In February 2015, the 18-year-old son of New Zealand helicopter legend Louisa “Choppy” Patterson was killed when the Robinson R44 he was riding in broke apart in midflight. In response to this tragedy, Patterson began developing Eye in the Sky, a durable and lightweight audio, video, and data in-flight recorder.

“The accident report said there was an in-flight break-up, but there was no determination of probable cause,” says Patterson, who is also CEO of Over the Top, a New Zealand–based air tour operator. “Had there been a product like Eye in the Sky onboard, there wouldn’t be as many questions [about the cause of the accident]. We could increase safety.”

The crash-resistant camera and data recorder captures HD video, high-resolution images, and data, including location (via GPS), airspeed, altitude, g-forces, pitch, roll, and yaw. The device’s SD card can hold 40 hours of data. The onboard battery continues to record after shutdown and immediate power loss. For more information, visit

Aviation Specialties Unlimited: Night-Vision Goggles

Once known as a reseller of night-vision products, as well as service and repair, Aviation Specialties Unlimited, Inc. (ASU) is now an OEM. The company introduced its new white phosphor E3 Lightweight Night Vision Goggles in Atlanta. Paired with the Aeronox mount and battery pack, the full system shaves 200 grams off standard night-vision goggle weights.

“Weight is a big concern, and it always comes back to haunt pilots as neck and back issues,” says ASU Chief Executive Officer Mike Atwood. “We listened to what pilots wanted and developed a lighter, more versatile goggle system with the expanded capabilities they need for mission success.”

In addition to its light weight, the new goggle system is easily repairable, fits multiple helmet styles, and features a retractable breakaway lanyard. For more information, visit the company’s website at www.asu​

Read More: HAI Salutes Excellence in Vertical Lift
May 23, 2019

Celebrating the best in vertical aviation.

Every day, on every continent, members of the vertical-lift community do amazing things with helicopters and other vertical-lift aircraft. They get jobs done that can’t be done any other way.

But for some, simply getting the job done is not enough. Whether in a single instance or throughout a career, these pilots, maintenance technicians, flight instructors, safety professionals, operators, and industry leaders from around the world excel—and set an example of excellence that inspires our industry.

For more than 50 years, HAI has encouraged and celebrated the highest standards of professionalism within the vertical-lift community through its Salute to Excellence Awards. The awards reflect outstanding achievements from across our industry.

At the 2019 Salute to Excellence Awards luncheon on March 6 during HAI HELI‑EXPO 2019 in Atlanta, the following honorees were recognized. HAI congratulates them and celebrates their contributions to our industry. Their passion for excellence is an inspiration to us all.

Nominations for the 2020 Salute to Excellence Awards, to be celebrated at HAI HELI‑EXPO 2020 in Anaheim, will be accepted beginning May 31, 2019. Visit for more information.

Read More: Rex Bishopp: Alaska Aviation Pioneer
May 20, 2019

Building the helicopter industry in America’s last frontier.

In an industry as young as ours, it’s not difficult to find pilots and maintenance technicians who have made historic contributions. That said, our Trailblazer for this issue of ROTOR is someone who was an influential figure in Alaska helicopter aviation without ever becoming a licensed pilot or mechanic.

Rex Bishopp, who passed away in 2018 at age 96, operated Alaska Helicopters for many years. He was also active in that state’s aviation community, working for safety, advocacy, and historic preservation. Before his death, Rex spoke with Martin J. Pociask of Helicopter Foundation International; this article is written from Pociask’s notes and other sources.

Read More: "Don't Let Anything Get in Your Way"
May 20, 2019

Helicopter Foundation International (HFI) scholarship winner Cory Oestreich’s desire to be in aviation started at a young age. Fascinated by the television show M*A*S*H, he loved to watch the helicopters.

As he grew older, that interest caused him to pursue a career in aviation. After Oestreich graduated high school, he attended a fixed-wing flight training program for two years at the University of Minnesota Crookston.

Realizing that his passion was for aviation maintenance, he transferred his credits to a two-year aviation maintenance technology (AMT) program at the Helena College University of Montana. He graduated in December 2017 with an Associate’s in Applied Science degree in AMT.

Oestreich participated in a couple of helicopter discovery flights and logged some flight hours with Hillsboro Aviation in Oregon. This led to a job with the US Forest Service helitack crew, Central Montana Helitack. He was a wildland firefighter as well as a helicopter crew member. Being in this position helped him make connections and build his network with a variety of helicopter companies.

Realizing the importance of continuing his training, Oestreich applied for and won the HFI Bill Sanderson AMT Scholarship. He used his scholarship to attend the Safran Arriel 2B/2B1 and 2D turboshaft engine maintenance course.

He is looking forward to continuing his training and plans to obtain his second-line maintenance qualification through Safran, as well as attend Airbus Helicopters factory training. Oestreich’s ultimate goal is to work for a helicopter air ambulance company.

When asked about his advice to those still working on their certification, he says, “Maintain an open mind first and foremost, and network whenever possible! Be willing to take less desirable jobs to eventually work your way up. Lastly, if aviation is what you want, just dive in headfirst and go for it. Don’t let anything get in your way.”