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Editorial: Great Resolutions

January 15, 2013  By Matt Nicholls

Lose 10 pounds by Easter? Finally hit the weights again and get in some sort of pitching shape for next season’s Vintage Men’s baseball league?

Lose 10 pounds by Easter? Finally hit the weights again and get in some sort of pitching shape for next season’s Vintage Men’s baseball league? That might cut it as a New Year’s resolution for yours truly, but what are Canadian operators’ most critical resolutions for their industry in 2013?

I asked several industry stalwarts to share their resolutions while researching the Helicopters annual Market Report (see “Cultivating Resources,” pg 16). The results? While there are plenty of challenges to conquer to make the industry more efficient, safer and more professional, most operators do have resolutions and are eager to make 2013 the safest, most successful season ever.

Helicopter Association of Canada president Fred Jones is cautiously optimistic about the new season and said his resolution is to encourage operators to pursue new opportunities in spite of economic fears. It’s an apt point, and one that operators we spoke with in the Market Report are readily embracing.

“We need to avoid the chill of the global economic circumstances that drag us down,” Jones said, adding that industry vets have seen this routine many times before. “The fundamentals are sound in Canada and in many international locations as well, so there are still good opportunities out there.”


Concentrating on operational integrity without wreaking havoc by undervaluing one another was another resolution shared by more than one operator. Rob Carroll, president/CEO of Yellowknife, N.W.T.-based Trinity Helicopters, told Helicopters that operators need to work together to service clients instead of taking measures to work against one another. Maintaining courteous relationships with other operators based on integrity and sound principles is an honourable goal, one that will help raise the level of professionalism in the Canadian helicopter industry.

“For me, a New Year’s resolution for the industry is simple,” Carroll said. “We need to stop undercutting everyone else by five bucks. It’s not helpful to the industry.

Operators everywhere need to acknowledge the value in your operation . . . and sell that. And always remember, you can’t be everything for everyone.”

Developing more effective communication with client groups was another resolution shared by more than one operator. Maintaining ironclad relationships with key clients is paramount to Goose Bay, N.L.-based Universal Helicopter’s success, and president/CEO Geoff Goodyear said 2013 will bring much of the same. Working closely with those clients to develop improved safety initiatives is another critical goal.

“As an industry, we pride ourselves on being able to do this going forward and there are great examples of it, such as the Best Practices documents created by HAC, which were done in conjunction with key client groups,” Goodyear said.

Goodyear said that some HAC members have had issues in the past with the way they are treated by some clients, specifically in the oil and gas industries. “I have pointed out that there are several times when we have bumped up against client groups and they have standards that don’t reflect the world we work in. So, we have to work to try and fill those gaps,” he said.

Mark Wiskmann, president/CEO of Thunder Bay, Ont.-based WiskAir Helicopters hit on another significant issue that may have huge ramifications going forward – Transport Canada’s (TC’s) proposed changes to flight and duty times that don’t fit with the helicopter profile. As Jones has noted several times in his regular Helicopters column, it’s a critical issue for operators, as it may mean inefficiencies, particularly with aircraft and personnel deployment. Wiskmann’s concerns are definitely valid as these proposed changes could significantly alter the playing field.

“If I see one major issue out there, it’s definitely this,” said Wiskmann. “It will bring extra costs for operators, huge inefficiencies that will affect flying hours, customer interests and a diminished number of operators.” Wiskmann is spot on and Helicopters will continue to monitor this issue throughout 2013 and report on all key issues going forward.

While these are just some of the issues affecting the industry heading into 2013, it’s safe to say the operators Helicopters spoke with for this year’s Market Report understand the importance of having clear-cut operational goals and a realistic vision for the industry as a whole. Let’s hope their collective operational integrity and concern for the betterment of the industry leads to positive change in 2013 and beyond.


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