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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read More: What is the greatest threat to the helicopter industry?
November 13, 2018

Competition for qualified helicopter aviation professionals, combined with a decreasing pool of new entries into the professions, is driving up personnel costs. The experience shortage will impact safety when “old hands” are no longer available to instruct and train students. This trend will eventually make rotary-wing services economically unsupportable when compared to autonomous vehicles and alternate transportation services.

Rick Kenin
Chief Operating Officer–Transport
Boston MedFlight

Read More: Preparing for Winter Operations
November 13, 2018

The cold temperatures that winter brings can be more than a nuisance for helicopter operations.

1. Review guidance for cold-weather operations. Most OEMs, both airframe and engine, have published guidance relating to the conduct of operations when conditions are near, at, or below freezing temperatures. The FAA has also published various guidance in the form of SAFOs, SAIBs, and other communications. Schedule some time to review these and ensure you are operating in compliance.

2. Check for moisture. A key issue affecting safety of flight is the accumulation of moisture in fuel systems, engine control systems, and almost any type of sensing system. Temperature changes can affect the amount or location of water accumulation. Does your aircraft require the use of a fuel additive such as Prist or something similar? If so, under what conditions?

3. Conduct a safety stand-down. Hold a safety stand-down to review your company’s SOPs, as well as industry best practices. Include both maintenance and operations personnel. Everyone needs to be on the safety team!

4. Learn from your mistakes. If you have any past company history relating to cold-weather operations, talk about what happened, why did it happen, and how we will avoid it happening again. We aren’t inventing new ways to have accidents, so let’s learn from our old ones.

5. Help the new guys. If you have new pilots or maintenance technicians on staff, be mindful that they may not have experience operating in your environment. Make sure they get the extra training or oversight they need. An operation where 98 percent of your colleagues know the right way to do things is not acceptable.

Read More: Tom Prevot of Uber Elevate
November 13, 2018

Tom Prevot of Uber Elevate talks about his company’s ambitious plans to reconfigure urban air traffic.

Uber Elevate is developing a vertical-lift low-altitude passenger shuttle system that it hopes will do in the air what its popular shared-ride service, Uber, has done on the ground in cities around the world. It’s aiming for a 2023 launch in two U.S. metro areas (Los Angeles and Dallas–Fort Worth) and one yet-to-be-named international city. But a lot has to happen first. So ROTOR asked Dr. Tom Prevot, director of engineering/airspace systems for Uber Elevate, about the, um “road” ahead.

What are biggest challenges that must be overcome for Elevate to hit its target launch date of 2023?

Prevot: We are creating an all-electric transportation system, so rapid advancement of battery technology—which is making great strides already—is critical.

Another is airspace integration. What will it take to make sure these aircraft can operate safely in the low-altitude airspace over cities that over time will become full of such vehicles?

And the third is public acceptance, which will very much be tied to the noise issue and also to people accepting these airplanes flying relatively low over people’s heads, even if they do so very quietly.

What about the partners you’ll need to finance, build, and operate this system?

We believe this is kind of the next “Big Thing,” if you’ll allow me to use that term: a new mode of transportation that presents different options to the congestion on the streets in big cities. There’s lots of growth and profit potential for our partners operating these aircraft or building and operating the infrastructure. We’ve already got five well-respected partners who want very much to be a part of this future: Bell, Embraer, Pipistrel, Aurora, and Karem.

How do you plan to guarantee the safety of the system?

We envision there eventually being many thousands of eVTOL [electric vertical take-off and landing] aircraft in the system. The existing traffic management system can’t handle that for a lot of technical reasons. And a single controller today can safely handle only about 18 aircraft at once.

You can’t just keep on adding more controllers because the existing system is not designed to grow that way. So we are looking at new ways of managing this low-altitude urban air traffic that would be much more reliable than the existing technology that was created in the ’50s and ’60s.

How far along is the FAA and industry in creating such a control and licensing regime?

Even within the current situation, we could operate by 2023 using a human pilot and in visual flight rule conditions. Longer term, we see this system migrating to unmanned flight operations. But we don’t really require any rule changes to start operating in 2023.

How much will you charge for a ride?

When we start operating, we think we can operate at sort of a comparable price to our BLACK (luxury car) service. Very quickly thereafter, we think we can get the price down to something comparable to Uber X. We also believe the batteries are something that over time the price point will come down on.

Eventually we think we’ll be able to offer an economy (Elevate) service, certainly below what the price of a helicopter ride is today, and comparable to the cost of owning and operating a car. We are talking about eventually getting the cost of this transportation down to less than a dollar per mile.

Read More: Accident Recovery: Direct-to Disaster
August 08, 2018

After an accident, it’s usually clear that someone made a mistake ... often more than one “someone.” The official investigation, reconstruction, and analysis by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is less concerned with apportioning blame than identifying those points at which different decisions might have interrupted the resulting sequence of events. Even so, experts can and do draw different conclusions about the relative importance of actions taken by the drama’s various actors.

The October 15, 2008, destruction of a Bell 222 air ambulance was notable in several respects. Its collision with a brightly lit radio tower on a clear night appears to be an early example of the dangers of substituting GPS-direct navigation for systematic flight planning. The accident led the then–vice chairman of the NTSB to issue a rare written dissent from the agency’s finding of probable cause. And the deaths of the pilot, flight nurse, paramedic, and 14-month-old patient intensified public scrutiny of the hazards of helicopter air ambulance (HAA) operations, especially in low visibility or at night.

The Flight

At 9:12 p.m., the Valley West Hospital in Sandwich, Illinois, requested a helicopter transport. The call was relayed through the dispatch center operated by Reach Air Medical Services in Santa Rosa, California. Reach’s local operator, Air Angels, Inc., accepted the flight immediately. However, departure was delayed by difficulties in determining which hospital could take the patient. The ship lifted off from the Air Angels base at Clow International Airport in Bolingbrook at 10:54 p.m., arriving at the Valley West helipad at 11:11.

At 11:38, prior to departing Valley West, the pilot called Reach Air Medical Services dispatch with the information required by company protocol, including the helicopter’s takeoff weight and center of gravity, an initial heading of 080 degrees, and an estimated flight time of 18 minutes for the 38-mile trip to Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago. Fuel supply was given as 1.5 hours. The exact time of liftoff was not reported but appears to have been about 11:49 p.m.

At 11:55, the pilot contacted DuPage Airport (KDPA), a Class D field with a 24-hour tower underlying the outer ring of Chicago O’Hare’s Class B complex. He gave his position as “over Aurora” at an altitude of 1,400 feet mean sea level (msl), or about 640 feet above the ground, and requested transit through KDPA’s airspace. The controller granted clearance but, because the flight was operating under visual flight rules (VFR), did not provide course guidance or obstacle warnings.

Radar track data showed the helicopter maintaining a straight-line course on a magnetic heading of 072 degrees, the direct route from West Valley to Children’s Memorial, at a constant altitude of 1,300 feet msl. The track ended abruptly at 11:58:25 p.m. at the site of a 734-foot radio tower. First responders found that the helicopter had struck the west side of the aerial about 50 feet below its top, crashed into a field, and caught fire.

Skies were clear, and the DuPage and Aurora airports reported 9 to 10 miles visibility. Surveillance footage showed that the tower’s two sets of high-intensity strobe lights were working before the collision.

Equipment, Personnel, and Procedures

Two months after Air Angels acquired the Bell 222 in 1999, they fitted it with a Garmin GNS 430 combination GPS and nav/comm radio. The unit had received a software update in January 2008, and its Jeppesen aviation database was last updated on June 1 of that year. The GPS was not certified for use under instrument flight rules (IFR). While its database included terrain and obstacle information, the software to display this had never been installed. Air Angels’ director of flight operations (DFO) confirmed that their pilots relied on the 430 as their primary navigation source.

The helicopter was also equipped with an autopilot capable of holding headings and altitudes. Typical practice was to fly at 1,500 feet msl in the daytime and 1,500 to 1,700 feet at night, 700 to 900 feet above typical terrain elevations in the Chicago area, at 125 to 130 knots. The DFO recalled that the accident pilot’s most recent line check had been interrupted by a patient call, which he’d handled according to the company’s operations manual. He’d used the autopilot during the en route portion of the flight.

The 69-year-old pilot had flown helicopters in Vietnam. According to his ex-wife, he’d been shot down seven times, and as a result, “most situations did not cause him much stress.” After leaving active duty, he’d continued to serve in the U.S. Army Reserve but apparently in a nonflying capacity.

His civilian career as a professional pilot had begun in 2004. He held a commercial certificate with an instrument-helicopter rating and private pilot privileges for single-engine airplanes, and had renewed his second-class medical certificate the previous January. Nearly 3,200 of his 3,565 hours of total flight time were in helicopters. The DFO, a former U.S. Army OH-58 pilot, described him as “very reliable and conscientious” and said he “flew his landing approaches in a slow and meticulous manner.”

The NTSB’s factual report lays considerable stress on the fact that the aircraft did not have a terrain awareness and warning system (TAWS). Two and a half years earlier, the Board had recommended that the FAA require all HAA operators to outfit their aircraft with TAWS; the FAA initially responded by emphasizing preflight planning but also developed technical specifications for helicopter TAWS systems. 14 CFR 135.605, requiring installation and training in the use of approved TAWS equipment by all HAA operators, eventually took effect on April 24, 2017.

However, the report also acknowledges that the radio tower “was depicted on the Chicago Aeronautical Sectional Chart, the Chicago Visual Flight Rules Terminal Area Chart, the Chicago Helicopter Route Chart, and as an obstruction on the air traffic controller’s radar display.” It was widely known as the tallest structure in the vicinity of Air Angels’ base. As noted earlier, there was no apparent impediment to seeing its two sets of high-intensity strobes.

ATC’s Responsibility

Radar coverage in the KDPA tower was provided by live feeds from O’Hare’s approach surveillance radar, which depicts the radio tower. The accident flight’s track, cited earlier, showed it flying directly toward that tower, whose location and height were also on the list of local landmarks and hazards that KDPA controllers were required to memorize during training.

The NTSB’s finding of probable cause included “the … controller’s failure to issue a safety alert” as a contributing factor. It cited paragraph 2-1-6 of FAA Order 7110.65, which requires ATC to “issue a safety alert to an aircraft if you are aware the aircraft is in a position/altitude which, in your judgment, places it in unsafe proximity to terrain, obstructions, or other aircraft.” The order also acknowledges that “it is virtually impossible to develop a standard list of duty priorities that would apply uniformly to every conceivable situation.”

A contrarian viewpoint might note the pilot’s clear interest in avoiding a well-lighted hazard that was shown on all relevant aviation charts and was also familiar to him from more than two years of low-altitude HAA flights in that area.

Why?

Though we’ll never be certain why this accident happened, one possible clue emerged from the investigators’ interviews with the Air Angels’ DFO. He described the helipad at Children’s Memorial as “not optimal” thanks to a tall steeple near its northeast corner and an elevator shaft on its north side. The pad itself is 13 stories up and so small that a helicopter as big as the Bell 222 must perch with its tail boom hanging over the edge. The pilot wasn’t familiar with the site, and during an interview with the NTSB, the DFO speculated that “at some point” he would have looked it up in the Illinois Hospital Heliport Directory.

“When the pilot would have done this, [the DFO] could not guess. It could have been at the hospital pad at Valley West … or while en route to Children’s [emphasis added]. However, it would be a likely thing for the pilot to do, especially since this was an unfamiliar helo pad for him. The directory is 139 pages, and could take a little time to find the correct page.”

Might the pilot have engaged the autopilot long enough for a quick review of the landing site in the heliport directory? It’s certainly not impossible — and could explain why he was seemingly heads-down during a VFR flight at night.

Differing Opinions

NTSB Vice Chairman Christopher Hart, himself a pilot and former FAA safety official, vigorously disagreed with the majority’s finding that “the controller’s failure to issue a safety alert as required” contributed to the accident. His three-page written dissent stressed that “for VFR pilots, seeing and avoiding obstacles is solely and exclusively the responsibility of the pilot in command … with no exceptions.” Hart also noted internal ambiguities that made the cited FAA order “not particularly compelling in this instance.”

Greater pilot complacency and reduced willingness of controllers to provide services to VFR traffic could also be unintended consequences of any suggestion that controllers share responsibility for obstacle clearance under visual flight rules.

The Takeaway

From the original gyroscopic attitude instruments through GPS, the Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS), and ADS-B, technological advances have improved safety while expanding capabilities … but they have also created new failure modes, both human and mechanical. Autopilots make single-pilot IFR possible in helicopters but with the attendant risks of misprogramming, instrument or processor malfunction, or simple inattention. The incredible precision of GPS navigation raises concerns about increased collision risk, especially over busy waypoints.

No one has more at stake in managing these trade-offs than pilots, who are the first to pay the price for any errors, whether their own or someone else’s. They — and their employers — might benefit from healthy skepticism about the safeguards they think they’ve bought. 

Read More: Visit the American Helicopter Museum and Education Center
August 08, 2018

A visit to the American Helicopter Museum and Education Center (AHMEC) is a voyage back to a time when helicopter pioneers bravely tested the possibilities and limits of these machines. Located in West Chester, Pennsylvania, the museum is a fitting attraction for an area considered by many to be the one of the incubators of rotary-wing aviation in the United States (see the end of this article to see a list of early rotary-wing pioneers in the greater Philadelphia area).

From Idea to Reality

The AHMEC began as a simple wish: to commemorate the innovation and hard work of aviation pioneers from Pennsylvania’s Delaware Valley. In 1993, as the American Helicopter Society’s Philadelphia chapter celebrated its 50th anniversary, it charged a committee with establishing a lasting tribute to the local men and women who pioneered the development of rotary-wing aircraft. Many ideas were considered, such as a memorial or historical walk.

The committee decided to open a helicopter museum. Their decision was fueled in part by a pledge by Peter Wright, Sr., president of Keystone Helicopters, to donate three vintage aircraft to the fledgling museum. A major figure in the development of the commercial helicopter industry (and veteran of the storied Flying Tigers, a group of US pilots who volunteered to fly for China against Japanese forces in World War II), Wright was instrumental in establishing the museum.

On October 25, 1993, the AHMEC was incorporated as a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization. Work began under Wright’s leadership, who took on the role of chairman of the board, and a dedicated team of volunteers. The initial goals of the museum were to: preserve the heritage of rotary-wing flight, halt the loss of artifacts significant to its founding and development, and recognize its contributions to society.

After an extensive search for the right location, the fledgling museum’s board rented an 18,000-square-foot vacant hangar at the Brandywine Airport (KOQN) in West Chester, Pennsylvania. The hangar had previously been a production facility for Messerschmitt-Bolkow-Blohm (MBB) helicopters. Educators and volunteers developed the initial exhibit content and renovated parts of the hangar to create a museum space.

Additional financial support from individuals and corporations helped make the idea a reality. Membership grew to 800 founding members, and in just three years, on October 18, 1996, the AHMEC opened to the public.

In 2003, Frank Robinson, founder and president of Robinson Helicopters, made a generous contribution of $1 million to the museum, enabling the acquisition of the Brandywine facility as its permanent home.

Read More: HAI Aids HEC Operators with FAA Exemptions
August 08, 2018

Following a months-long grounding of US-based human external cargo (HEC) helicopter operations because of certification issues, the first helicopter operator has received its FAA-approved exemption and will be able to resume operations shortly.

Due in part to efforts by HAI staff members, the FAA approved the exemption for Haverfield Aviation on July 13. The Pennsylvania-based company expects to resume HEC flight operations as soon as the appropriate changes are incorporated into its Part 133 Rotorcraft Load Combination Flight Manual and approved by its flight standards district office.

“HAI worked tirelessly on behalf of Haverfield Aviation to ensure the HEC exemption process was moving through the complex system of the FAA,” says Brian Parker, president and CEO of Haverfield. “Chris Martino and Harold Summers [respectively, HAI’s VP of flight operations and its director of flight operations and technical services] were always available and kept Haverfield Aviation promptly updated. HAI certainly contributed to the successful approval of the waiver. Haverfield and its customers that rely on HEC are greatly appreciative of HAI’s assistance.”

The issue came to light earlier this year, when operators learned that the FAA was increasing its focus on compliance with the HEC requirements of 14 CFR Part 27 or 29. The agency had determined that the cargo hooks used for HEC operations were not certified for that use. The hooks, which have been used for decades in HEC operations, have never been implicated in any accident or incident.

Later in the spring, the FAA then requested all operators halt HEC operations until the companies complied or had received an exemption pending certification. The grounding affected operators using MD 500/Hughes 369 helicopters.

Haverfield’s exemption requires them to use an emergency anchor, or belly band, as a secondary safety device in case the cargo hook fails. The exemption also requires the operator to provide training on the use of the emergency anchor and to follow other best practices for HEC operations.

HAI became involved after being contacted by several member companies that had halted their HEC work at the request of the FAA. HAI began working to help resolve the issue while also calling for the operators to work sensibly and safely while waiting for the exemption process to proceed.

Haverfield joined 18 other operators in applying for an exemption. HAI stepped in as a neutral third party between the FAA and the operators, helping to facilitate discussion, address issues, and assist in resolving specific issues, including proper wording on applications for exemption. HAI also served as a central point of contact for the FAA and the operators.

“We served as a liaison, connecting the operators with the FAA. We understood that these companies needed to get back to work, but we also appreciate that we needed to find a solution that would keep everyone in compliance with FAA regs,” says Harold Summers. “We coordinated the communication between the industry and the FAA on a weekly, sometimes daily, basis to speed up and streamline the process.”

While several of the affected companies submitted requests for exemption, the FAA selected one application — Haverfield’s — that came closest to being complete. “Now that it’s approved, it will serve as a template for the other operators to use for their applications,” adds Summers. By modeling their exemption applications on Haverfield’s, other operators can receive summary approval by the FAA.

Founded in 1981 and an HAI Regular Member since 1994, Haverfield Aviation is a provider of aerial power line inspection, maintenance, repair, and construction support services for the North American electric utility industry. 

Read More: Smart Glasses: Helicopter MRO with "Vision"
August 08, 2018

Among the technological fantasies offered by science fiction, Star Trek’s holodeck is one of the most intriguing. The holodeck offered the Enterprise crew the chance to interact with a realistic 3D environment. This could be any place, for any purpose — training for a mission on an alien planet or, as a break from shipboard life, spending an afternoon hiking on a forest trail.

The 24th century, inhabited in fiction by Captain Picard and his crew, has arrived early. Science fiction is quickly becoming science fact, as virtual reality/augmented reality/mixed reality, or VR/AR/MR, is being adopted for a broad variety of commercial and personal uses.

If you think that VR/AR is solely a toy for gamers, think again. Yes, it’s a booming leisure activity — and it’s also a social and business phenomenon. Health care providers use it for diagnostics; the Pentagon for combat training; real estate agents to show off homes; and automobile makers to build virtual prototypes of new vehicles, to list only a few examples.

With the commercial aviation sector booming around the world, demand for AR smart glasses in the maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) field is skyrocketing. Major MRO players, such as Air France Industries, Monarch Aircraft Engineering, Lufthansa Technik, and AAR, are adopting smart glasses as a way to help their maintenance technicians work faster, more efficiently, and well, smarter.

Read More: Where Is the SH09? Kopter Gears Up to Deliver
August 08, 2018

A Swiss company founded in 2007 with the goal of launching a brand-new helicopter design has yet to deliver a finished aircraft. Expected certification dates have come and gone. Ten years is a long time to wait, especially for a company that has taken in at least $430 million from unusually patient investors without delivering a single finished product.

But leaders at Kopter — which until February was known as Marenco Swisshelicopter — are confident not only that they will deliver their first SH09 single-engine helicopter sometime in the first half of 2019 but that, within a decade, Kopter will rank among the top three civil helicopter manufacturers in the world.

It’s an ambitious outlook, to say the least.

But that’s pretty much the marching orders given to Andreas Löwenstein when he was hired as CEO on January 1, 2017. The 25-year aviation and defense industry veteran came to Marenco after the company’s board, dominated by Russian investor Alexander Mamut via a family trust headquartered in Cyprus, pushed founder Martin Stucki into retirement

Stucki, a Swiss helicopter pilot and engineer, is rightly credited with identifying a potentially huge, underserved segment of the global helicopter market: operators looking for an all-new, technologically advanced single-engine helicopter that offers the size and capabilities of a twin-engine aircraft. But Stucki and his small team of engineers repeatedly were frustrated by unexpected technical delays and an inability to advance their promising new product through the European Aviation Safety Agency’s (EASA) certification process.

So Löwenstein and a new team of industry veterans were hired away from companies like Airbus, Leonardo, Rolls-Royce, and even Bell to get the ball across the goal line as quickly as possible. Collectively, the new management team has 220 years in the helicopter industry.

“The company had been driven by people who did not come out of the helicopter industry,” Löwenstein says. “It was led by a group of brilliant engineers. But we needed to bring [the initial product, the SH09,] to certification. That means you need a team that is skilled and experienced in the certification of aircraft and, most importantly, that is trusted by the certification authorities.”

The process to certify a new aircraft design is always measured in years, but Löwenstein says one reason for the SH09’s slow progress was the size of the Marenco team. “The certification scope you have to cover is so broad. The documentation you have to produce is so thick. You cannot do it with 140 people, which is about what we had when I arrived. We also had to shape the product support operation, build the sales team, and create an assembly-line process, all in order to win certification. So we needed to bring in people with lots of experience in each of these areas.”

By late 2016, it was clear to all involved that Marenco Swisshelicopter had a solid foundation — the design of the SH09 was both innovative and on target. But it also was obvious that the company was struggling to put all those other important elements together in order to earn certification. That’s why the change in leadership had to be made.

With founder Martin Stucki no longer involved — whose Martin Engineering Consultants gave rise to the Marenco brand — that made-up word no longer seemed relevant. And Swisshelicopter is such a long word — and one that proved to be very hard to pronounce by many nonnative German, French, and English speakers — that the new leadership determined that it, too, had to go.

The company needed a shorter, pithier name that would stick in helicopter buyers’ minds and roll off international tongues with ease. And, indeed, Kopter, with a K to capture the company’s Swiss/Germanic heritage, has seemed like an inspired choice since the new brand was introduced on February 1 of this year.

Read More: Hot Topics in Finance and Leasing
August 07, 2018

Q. Why are hourly-cost maintenance programs (HCMPs) often required when financing or leasing a helicopter?

An HCMP, often referred to as “paying by the hour,” is a program that allows operators to fulfill maintenance requirements, stay on top of costs, and reduce risks, regardless of whether the helicopter is financed or leased.

An operator enters an HCMP program with either the manufacturer or an independent entity and pays a flat hourly rate per flight hour to have a guaranteed percentage of all qualified scheduled and unscheduled maintenance costs covered. The client reports flight hours either monthly or at agreed-upon intervals and pays the subsequent flight-hour invoice while the HCMP covers the agreed-upon percentage of maintenance costs for the term.

Finance and leasing entities usually mandate HCMP programs because of the strategic and financial benefits to their customers and the overall reduced risk of the investment. In addition to streamlining the maintenance budget to a flat hourly rate per flight hour, HCMPs also maintain the residual value of the helicopter. Valuations of aircraft with HCMPs are higher than valuations of aircraft without them.

Furthermore, HCMPs also protect both operators and lenders/lessors from certain financial risks because the necessary funds for future maintenance are accrued in real time. In addition, the risk of qualified unscheduled failures is borne by the HCMP service provider, who may also assume the risk of some other variable costs, such as mandatory service bulletins and airworthiness directives.

The lending and leasing communities usually mandate the use of HCMPs to combat value loss and mitigate the financial risk of maintenance costs.

– Kyle Sale, director of business development for Jet Support Services, Inc. (JSSI)

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