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Challenges Facing our Industry

In a flurry of emails and phone calls, a number of operators have contacted me recently to lament the challenges facing our industry. The cost of parts and aircraft (in the context of a strong USD); the new Flight & Duty Time Regulations; the prospective arrival of UAVs operating in a Beyond-Visual-Line-of-Sight (BVLOS) environment; the shortage of Drivers and Engineers, and customers that are demanding MORE experienced pilots; a never-ending race-to-the-bottom on rates; and a regulator, that “just doesn’t understand us” – just to name a few. Add to this a generational shift, where young pilots and Engineers – are becoming more demanding with respect to wages, tour-lengths, and working conditions. Wow. This business has never been for the faint of heart – but we seem to be faced with an unusually high number of challenges in today’s environment.  During last year’s convention, a number of ideas were raised by operators that attempted to address these issues, including (in no particular order):

  • An Educational Guide for prospective Customers that would help them select an operator on something other-than, rates (the use of an SMS and a Safety Reporting System; Safety enhancing procedures or equipment in use, for example);
  • A structured mentoring system for young pilots entering our industry – including a graduated system for introducing new pilots to Forest Fire Fighting (see, below);
  • The use of an Association template for FRMS, as a way of finding relief from Transport Canada’s oppressive new F&DT regulations, that simply cannot work in our industry segment (One day off in seven in deployed operations - really?);
  • A Part VI POC, in addition to a Part VII AOC, that could potentially provide some more operational flexibility – some conditions, apply. Operators have claimed that the new F&DT regulations have the potential to significantly change the complexion of our industry;
  • Enhancements to the current curriculum and number of hours for training new Commercial Helicopter pilots, that could allow them to move to Line Flying with fewer delays;
  • More programming at the HAC Convention, aimed at educating new operators on the cost of operating different aircraft types. Limitations placed by Anti-Combines laws prevent the Association from becoming involved in price-setting or a discussion of pricing, in any way. 

These important issues are being actively considered by HAC will be discussed by the applicable HAC Committee, and the Association’s Board at its next meeting.