2018 Summer Issue

The magazine of Helicopter Association International

Calendar of Events
ROTOR Staff 2018 Summer

August 13–15
31st National Training Aircraft Symposium
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
Daytona Beach, Florida, USA

August 19
World Helicopter Day
“Celebrating helicopters and the people that operate them”

August 29–30
Aerial Firefighting Asia Pacific 2018
Tangent Link
Wollongong, Australia

September 10–12
Third Global Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems Symposium (RPAS/3)
International Civil Aviation Organization
Chengdu, China

September 18–21
44th European Rotorcraft Forum
Delft, The Netherlands

September 26–27
HFI Workforce Sustainability Round Table
Helicopter Foundation International
Alexandria, Virginia, USA
Email Allison.McKay@rotor.org

September 26–28
ASA+FNA 30th Anniversary Conference
Aeromed Australasia and Flight Nurses Australia
Hobart, Tasmania, Australia

October 2–4
2018 CHC Safety and Quality Summit
Dallas, Texas, USA

October 16–18
Helitech International 2018
European Helicopter Association
Amsterdam, The Netherlands

October 16–18
NBAA Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (NBAA-BACE)
National Business Aviation Association
Orlando, Florida, USA

October 22–24
Air Medical Transport Conference 2018 (AMTC 2018)
The Association of Air Medical Services
Phoenix, Arizona, USA

October 25–26
Helicopter Tour Operators Safety Conference
Helicopter Association International
Long Beach, California, USA

October 30 – November 1
7th Asian/Australian Rotorcraft Forum (ARF 2018)
AHS International and Rotor Korea
Jeju Island, Korea

November 7–10
Indo Helicopter 2018 Expo & Forum
Jakarta, Indonesia

November 13–14
HAI Firefighting Safety Conference
Helicopter Association International
Boise, Idaho, USA

December 4–7
2018 Ag Aviation Expo
National Agricultural Aviation Association
Reno, Nevada, USA

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HAI Aids HEC Operators with FAA Exemptions
ROTOR Staff 2018 Summer

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.

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Learning to Fly Drones
PJ Barbour 2018 Summer

Stories and photos by Mark Bennett and PJ Barbour

It’s an exciting time in drone aviation. This is an industry making it up on the fly, figuring out basic questions about maintenance, operations, and training — just as a previous generation did with helicopters.

Among the many questions to be answered about using drones in your aviation business is this: how do we start?

If you haven’t already launched your first drone, here’s a look at some people who have and who are figuring out some of the basics of drone training.

The Town of Gilbert, AZ

Elizabeth Rohe and Jessica Bautista use drones as a story/image/video collection tool in their work as digital journalists for the town of Gilbert, Arizona, southeast of Phoenix.

The two had limited aviation experience: Bautista had flown her husband’s drone, and Rohe had flown a co-worker’s.

Both are hard-working, Type A students, so they took studying for the Part 107 exam seriously. They enrolled in an online course, studied together for a few weeks, and each passed much above minima

The two recommend building flight time as the best way to learn more about flying drones. “The more I go out and fly, the more comfortable I get,” says Rohe. “You’ll encounter other situations so you’re always learning.” In practice, they work as a two-person team — a remote pilot in command and a visual observer — which is not required by the FAA but is encouraged.

The two journalists stress that technology is not what drew them to drones. “We love using drones, not just because they allow a completely different perspective, but because that new perspective inspires us to push the envelope, creatively, when it comes to videography,” says Bautista.

They are members of a Facebook group, Amelia Droneheart, which promotes women in the UAS industry. As Dronehearts, they want to inspire other women to become part of this new wave of aviation.

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Where Is the SH09? Kopter Gears Up to Deliver
Dan Reed 2018 Summer

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.

Building toward Certification

In the roughly 18 months that Löwenstein has been on the job, the company payroll has more than doubled in size, to around 300. Another 50 or so employees are expected to be added by year’s end.

Since Löwenstein’s arrival, the company’s headquarters and engineering teams have been relocated to a new, larger facility in Wetzikon, east of Zurich. The company has staffed up its dynamic testing facility in Ennetmoos, south of Zurich.

Staff have been added at Kopter’s certification management office across the border in Siegertsbrunn, Germany. And new staff are being added and trained at the company’s primary manufacturing and assembly plant in Mollis, south of Zurich. Because that facility’s maximum production capacity will be a little more than 50 units per year, Kopter also plans to start final assembly lines in the United States and Asia as production ramps up.

Meanwhile the SH09 now has completed more than half of its flight-test program. Flight testing began in earnest in 2014 but had to be put on hold for more than a year when a problem with excessive vibration was discovered. A redesigned bearingless rotor and new, slightly stiffer rotor blades solved that problem, and flight testing resumed in 2016.

Kopter earned its Design Organization Approval from EASA back in February. That’s a necessary precursor to the SH09 earning its final type certificate, which the company expects to happen in 2019.

A Concept for Today’s Market

There was never a doubt that Stucki’s initial vision of a full cabin-class helicopter powered by a single turbine engine would have strong appeal in the market. The SH09 offers significantly more cabin space and flexibility than its single-engine Bell 407 and Airbus H125 competition — as well as more cabin space than the twin-engine Airbus H135 and comparable cabin space to the larger, pricier H145.

“We’re able to offer a helicopter with a cabin that’s as big as or bigger than the H145 at a price close to the H125 and the 407,” says Larry Roberts, a longtime U.S. helicopter sales executive with both Airbus and Bell whom Löwenstein hired in late 2017 to lead Kopter’s sales efforts in North America. “Twin-engine cabin and performance for single-engine acquisition and operating costs is a very, very attractive offering, we think.”

The combination of the SH09’s lightweight, all-composite monocoque body — which borrows heavily from the world of Formula 1 racing — and a powerful HTS900 engine from Honeywell capable of delivering 1,020-shaft-horsepower should give the SH09 excellent hot-and-high performance characteristics. That seems befitting for a helicopter whose originator, Stucki, actually flew medical rescue missions in the Swiss Alps.

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HAI Welcomes 2018–19 Board of Directors
ROTOR Staff 2018 Summer

More than 100 people helped HAI welcome its new Board of Directors on June 25 as the association held its annual reception to mark the end of the fiscal year and the installation of the new board. Old friends and new connections mingled over hors d’oeuvres as they congratulated the board on another year of serving HAI members.

During the reception, outgoing Chairman Daniel B. Schwarzbach of the Houston Police Department passed the gavel to James O. Wisecup of Air Methods Corporation, who on July 1 took over as chairman of the Board of Directors (read more about Wisecup in his profile on p. 12 and his chairman’s column on p. 4).

HAI President and CEO Matt Zuccaro also honored Schwarzbach and outgoing board members Torbjorn “TC” Corell and Chuck Aaron with plaques to commemorate their time as HAI volunteer leaders.

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Jim Wisecup: HAI’s New Chairman
Gina Kvitkovich 2018 Summer

“One of the good guys.” “A real gem.” “What happens when our industry gets it right.”

These are the types of comments I heard about Jim Wisecup as he was elected to the HAI Board of Directors and then was selected by his fellow directors as chairman of the association for the 2018–19 term. And spending an afternoon with Jim helped me to understand why he is so respected in the industry.

Jim is a highly experienced 16,000-hour pilot with a deep understanding of industry issues and an even better grasp of how we will solve every one of those problems: through people working together.

Deciding on Aviation

Jim grew up in the Houston area. After high school, he attended the University of Houston for a year, but he says that at 19 he was “too impatient” for college. (Fifty years later, Jim has more patience: he is finishing up his studies at Southern Utah University and expects to get a bachelor’s degree in aviation science in spring 2019.)

Even as a teenager, Jim knew that he wanted to fly for a living — his first ride in an airplane taught him that — so he joined the US Army. Unlike other services, the army did not require its pilots to have a college degree.

During his year in Vietnam, Jim flew for the MACV-SOG unit, which conducted special ops missions. Characteristically, Jim turns his year of living dangerously into a funny story, remarking that he had three engine failures caused by FOD (foreign object damage). The first was caused by a mortar round, the second by an artillery shell, and the third by a rocket-propelled grenade. He earned several decorations, including a Purple Heart, Silver Star, Bronze Star, and multiple air medals along the way.

Jim was discharged in April 1971 and then went to work for the US Department of the Interior. He had used his GI Bill benefits to get his fixed-wing ratings and was also working as a fixed-wing instructor. But his real goal was to find a job flying helicopters.

At this time, the helicopter industry was flooded with US Army–trained pilots and maintenance technicians, so finding a job in the helicopter industry wasn’t easy, even for an experienced pilot. Luckily, one of Jim’s fixed-wing students mentioned that he would soon be quitting his job at Offshore Helicopters in Sabine Pass, Texas.

Armed with that intelligence, Jim applied for a job at Offshore but was told that there were no openings. Jim didn’t share that there soon would be, and sure enough, he was offered the newly open position.

He started flying offshore in 1974 — pilot #5 of five pilot positions. After three years, when Offshore’s chief pilot left, Jim was offered the position. “I was probably the only one of the four pilots left who showed any desire or aptitude for the job,” says Jim.

Over 10 years of operations, Offshore went from five helicopters to 40, and from five pilots to 85. In 1979, when Bristow Helicopters bought Offshore Helicopters, Jim became chief pilot for Bristow’s US operations. After spending a year-and-a-half working for Bristow in the Gulf of Mexico, he was transferred to Bristow operations in Scotland and then to Malaysia as a training captain.

In 1984, Jim moved to Arctic Air as chief pilot — after several years abroad, he was eager to get back to the United States. He was working in California in 1987 when he got a call from Larry Kelly, whom he had worked with in the Gulf of Mexico (and with whom he later served on the HAI Board of Directors). Kelly urged Jim to apply for a job in Tulsa, Oklahoma, flying air medical missions for Rocky Mountain Helicopters.

Jim’s interview for the job was with John Heiskel, vice president of air medical operations for Rocky Mountain. Heiskel turned out to be someone who had interviewed with Jim for a job in the Gulf — and then didn’t get it. Luckily, Heiskel didn’t hold a grudge.

Jim has been flying in the helicopter air ambulance (HAA) sector ever since. Rocky Mountain Helicopters was acquired by Air Methods in 2002, and Jim is now an assistant chief pilot at the company, which operates 300 bases serving 48 US states.

Flying air medical has its own rewards, says Jim, who no longer flies patient transport flights. “I miss it sometimes, but not at four o’clock in the morning when it’s 10 degrees outside.” From thousands of transports, three or four patients have returned to say thanks, says Jim, and that makes it all worthwhile.

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Coming Back Home to Aviation
Allison McKay 2018 Summer

Austin Rowles has been around aviation professionals practically his entire life. When he was very young, his father started a flight school called Palm Beach Helicopters.

“My family rode out three hurricanes [in Palm Beach County, Florida], and after one of those hurricanes destroyed the office, we rebuilt there. Every major event that has occurred in my life has been in some way, shape, or form caused by aviation.”

After high school, Rowles decided to major in computer science. Though his love of computers still runs deep, after a year of study in that field he decided to come back to his roots and pursue his other passion, aviation.

“A combination of watching my father pour his blood, sweat, and tears into this industry, and seeing my brother’s father-in-law work as a maintenance technician drove me to come back home.”

Rowles applied for and won a 2018 HFI Maintenance Technician Certificate Scholarship. He is working on his airframe and powerplant certifications and will finish his private pilot rating this summer. In addition, he has been working with his brother’s father-in-law at his shop on Meacham Airfield in Fort Worth, Texas. Rowles has done everything from a full four-phase inspection of a King Air C90 to fabricating instrument panels for multiple Cessna models.

“This industry revolves around a single word: networking.”

Rowles’s ultimate career goal is to eventually run his own Part 147 school that concentrates on the rotorcraft side of the aviation industry. “I believe rotorcraft are heavily neglected in our current schools, and I hope to be a driving force to fix that.”

When asked what advice he would give others considering a career in aviation, Rowles says, “This industry revolves around a single word: networking. Skill is always important — you should always strive to be the best at whatever it is you want to do — but when you’re shooting for that director of maintenance position at that popular company you’ve always wanted to work for, it helps to know the right people.

“Go to as many meet-ups as you can. Write names down and never forget a face. There are so many wonderful people in this industry, so it’s a pleasure just getting to know everyone.”

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Before Google Could Translate
Cade Clark 2018 Summer

My first trip abroad was to the Soviet Union. As a youngster growing up at the end of the Cold War, I was not sure what to expect.

My stay with a host family was wonderful, and it turned out that the Russian family was a lot like mine: the kids complained about doing chores and didn’t like vegetables, but everyone loved Grandma’s cooking. It was eye-opening to see firsthand how many similarities we had.

My Soviet summer came to an end too soon, and I headed home … just missing the real excitement a couple of weeks later when, on August 18, 1991, Russian president Boris Yeltsin lead the resistance to an attempted coup. The coup was unsuccessful — but it set the stage for the breakup of the Soviet Union by the end of the year.

It was such a fascinating adventure, I had to go back. A few years later I returned, this time to the Russian Federation. By this time, I was a private fixed-wing pilot and had been working for some time with my dad at a small FBO that he ran at a local general aviation airport.

Along with other operations, we ran some cargo flights in Piper Navajos and Beech 99s. I don’t recall why, but at the time there was a lot of chatter in our area about the Soviet Antonov An-2 and its possible use in cargo missions. Naturally, when I returned to Russia, I was determined to discover if and how this single-engine biplane could be used in our operations.

I told my host family of my quest to talk to some pilots. A few weeks later, I found myself packed into their little Lada, headed out to a “surprise.” We drove through the beautiful wooded Russian countryside until suddenly, we pulled up at a little airstrip where members of an aero club were critiquing the aerobatic flight skills of their fellow pilots.

I was introduced to a number of the pilots and immediately hit it off. Several proudly introduced themselves as former members of the Soviet Air Forces, noting with a grin that they were trained to shoot down my country’s aircraft. I told them of my respect for their flying ability and remarked how great it was that we could all now come together as friends with a shared love of aviation.

When I stop to think about it, this was quite a moment. What really separated me from my new friends?

We grew up under two opposite political systems and, as they dryly remarked, we had considered each other to be enemies, trained to shoot each other down. But once we got over that minor historical speed bump, it was apparent that, just like my Soviet host family, we were more alike than different. We enjoyed talking about aviation and adventures, like any long-lost friends.

While watching the club members go through their aerobatic practice, I noticed a couple of An-2s parked on the far side of the grass strip. I asked all about them and the commercial prospects of bringing an An-2 to America. At least that’s what I think I said. I might have said, “I like chocolate ice cream” or even, in my rudimentary Russian, “Ice cream like chocolate me.” There’s really no way to be sure.

There was a commotion behind me and suddenly, a large pack was slapped on my back — a parachute, as it turns out. I was led to a Yak-52, the primary Soviet trainer aircraft, and promptly secured in the back seat.

At that point, my mind was racing, trying to remember exactly what I said about the An-2. I was hoping I hadn’t agreed to purchase a fleet of the aircraft. I was also thinking I didn’t catch a word about how to use the parachute. One of my new buddies bounded in and asked if I was ready to go. I wasn’t sure where we were going, but the only right answer at that point was “Da!”

Next thing I knew we were over the Gulf of Finland, an arm of the Baltic Sea. Then I heard over the headset the Russian equivalent of “Get ready.” My friend then took me through my first aerobatic experience. To say I was having the time of my life would be an understatement. I squealed like a little kid with such joy that my new friend burst into laughter as he took us through one aerobatic maneuver after another. He even let me do a few loops.

I was wishing we would stay up forever, but alas we headed back to the field and he let me land, which was a new experience from my perch in the back. We rolled up to the ramp and relived our flight, talking till it was finally time to leave. I stayed in touch with my friends for quite some time until addresses changed and mail was lost. (This was, after all, before email.)

Why this trip down memory lane and how does it relate to HAI? Well, at HAI we work on your behalf to keep the rotors turning. We connect people and ideas to advance the industry. No matter where you live in the world, as HAI members we are connected by our love of aviation.

We may have grown up in different political systems, countries, and cultures, but we share a unique bond. Who knew that, just like me, Soviet kids didn’t like vegetables? It wasn’t until I was there, speaking and connecting with people, that I realized that we had many similarities we could build on — similarities that formed a bridge over our differences.

Flipping through the air over the beautiful Gulf of Finland with my new Russian buddy, the one trained to shoot down American aviators, we shared laughter and the sheer joy of the freedom of flight. It was an incredible experience brought about by a host family seeking to connect a kid and his crazy scheme for a Russian aircraft with the local Russian aviation community.

HAI, located just across the river from Washington, D.C., frequently works with regulators and legislators on issues important to our industry. But frankly, they wouldn’t be interested in working with us if we didn’t work for you.

Elected officials put a high priority on helping their constituents back home, and they know that HAI connects them with issues and solutions for those voters. Our power in advocacy comes from the grassroots strength of our members.

Advocacy works the same way in any country in which our members live. HAI is a resource for you to connect people and ideas. We have many affiliates throughout the world who can furnish expert analysis on local operational issues and opportunities. HAI is ready to help you make that connection.

This coming October, HAI will be attending and exhibiting at Helitech International in Amsterdam. If you are planning to be there, stop by our booth and let’s chat. Building networks and relationships is how we strengthen this industry and move it forward. We can all learn and build from each other’s experiences.

To craft common-sense aviation polices, our elected officials, no matter the country, need the expertise our industry can provide. Let’s learn from each other about how effective education and advocacy campaigns can be built. How have you been able to influence your government’s legislative or regulatory decision-making process? Share your victories as well as defeats. We can all learn, refine, and improve our approach in sharing our message about the positive contributions of the helicopter industry.

Finally, get involved politically. For HAI members in America, don’t forget that Congress has an August recess and the House is scheduled to be home in the districts campaigning. This is the perfect time for you to schedule a visit with your elected official. Invite them to your place of business and show them the good work you are doing for your community.

HAI international members, look for the same opportunities according to the openings in your elected officials’ calendars. Become a resource to your elected officials on aviation issues. Help them develop the best aviation policies possible.

By building stronger networks among the aviation community — and inviting others to understand our contributions to a healthy economy and safe communities — we will build a successful, united helicopter industry. In English, we call that “keeping the rotors turning.” How do you say it in your language? Let me know at cade.clark@rotor.org.

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