Helicopters Magazine

Features Procedures Safety & Training
Editorial: A Collective Effort

October 23, 2015  By Matt Nicholls

Earlier this fall, I had the distinct pleasure of visiting with Helicopter Association of Canada (HAC) president and CEO Fred Jones at the association’s new home in the nation’s capital. Jones is one of the people I respect most in the Canadian aviation and aerospace industry, as few people are more connected, committed and passionate about the success of their respective area of expertise – and the industry they work so hard to protect.

Jones is also one of the most amicable and approachable industry leaders, and our annual conversation about the state of the industry is easily one of my most-anticipated conversations of the year. It’s always informative and insightful, and since we both love to talk – a lot – it usually extends much longer than the anticipated interview time frame we agreed upon. Case in point, our discussion in Ottawa – it went on and on, to a point where both of our significant others were sending “Where are you?” messages to our phones. (For more on our conversation see, “Accepting the Challenge,” pg. 14)

As any great leader comprehends, the success of an organization is predicated on the high capabilities of the team – a shared perspective from idea generation to workload execution. The HAC team certainly fits this premise. Each team player does an admirable job in providing leadership and commitment to its members and to important advocacy efforts as a whole. HAC is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year and in many ways, it is just getting started – rounding into form with a strong advocacy push, an insightful and useful convention alternating in different parts of the nation, and a highly capable team of volunteers driving safety and education in several facets of the industry.

The 2015 operating season in Canada, though slow and challenging for operators and suppliers alike from a revenue-generating point of view, was also one of the safest on record. It follows up yet another safe operating year in 2014, and while there are no statistics to accurately measure the value of HAC’s safety push and Best Practices programs, it appears they are certainly contributing in helping to create a safer, more controlled operating environment.

As Jones aptly points out, it has been a collective effort industry initiative to get it to this point. HAC has certainly done its part, but other associations such as the International Helicopter Safety Team (IHST), the hard work of individual operators to implement Safety Management Systems (SMS), and of course the efforts of the dedicated volunteers that have worked hard to create the Best Practices in so many key sectors, have all contributed to an industry that is undergoing significant change for the better.


Also contributing to raise the bar are the various OEMs and suppliers who are creating state-of-the-art products and services that help keep the blades turning from coast-to-coast. Technologically advanced aircraft such as this month’s cover model, Airbus Helicopters’ H130, which recently completed a nationwide tour, are just some of the highly capable products available.

Airbus’ Innovation in Safety Award – awarded annually at the conference to an individual or group of individuals who are working to raise the safety envelope – is another way OEMs are highlighting sound safety practices. I am delighted to take part in the process as one of the judges and it’s always impressive to see the level of commitment each nominee brings.

Another key safety initiative to be rolled out at this year’s show is the introduction of HAC’s new “Blue Skies” training certificate program. The designation will be handed out to operators and employees once they have completed an educational course based on a specific Best Practice. The program will commence with the utility Best Practice; it’s just another way operators and employees can raise their personal safety standards.

HAC’s Best Practices committees have been instrumental in the development of important educational programs for the past 20 years, and the benefits of their hard work cannot be accurately measured. As Jones aptly notes, “They really have done the heavy lifting,” and all who have taken part should be commended.

No, the 2015 operating season wasn’t the most lucrative one on record – but it definitely was a safe one. It is apparent that the collective efforts of operators, OEMs, suppliers, HAC, and other industry associations, are paying dividends in helping to create a safer working environment nationwide. Keep up the good work.


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