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Editorial: Heavy Hitters

July 15, 2011  By Matt Nicholls

One of the great advantages of being the editor of Helicopters magazine is having the opportunity to exchange ideas with many of the dynamic leaders who drive this critical Canadian industry.

One of the great advantages of being the editor of Helicopters magazine is having the opportunity to exchange ideas with many of the dynamic leaders who drive this critical Canadian industry. It’s a rare privilege, one I’m more than happy to share with readers.

Case in point: presenting information gleaned from Helicopters’ first industry roundtable held earlier this year during the Helicopter Association of Canada (HAC) annual general meeting and conference in Vancouver. Our “Super Seven” panel representing a variety of operators nationwide gathered for a spirited conversation tackling a wide range of key topics. In just under an hour-and-a-half, the group covered everything from surviving in a tough economy to training and pilot/AME retention to the impact unmanned aircraft may have on operations in the years ahead. (See part 1 of the roundtable, “Forecasting the Future, pg. 19).

It was a tremendous learning opportunity, to be sure, but what struck me most was the passion and depth of knowledge each participant displayed – and the commitment each has to ensuring the integrity of the Canadian landscape remains intact. It’s a dedication to higher learning and exploring bigger-picture scenarios that younger industry professionals would be wise to emulate as their careers progress.

For Terry Jones, operations manager at Highland Helicopters, sharing insights on challenges and nuances in the industry must seem like second nature. Jones has spent more than 50 years in the helicopter business and has gained a thorough understanding of its changing dynamics – and he’s hardly resting on his laurels. Jones attends numerous conferences, actively learning and applying new information to help improve the Highland operation. And to paraphrase the famous ads from U.S. brokerage firm E.F. Hutton, “When Terry Jones speaks, people listen.” When he speaks at an HAC committee meeting or an industry gathering, people do listen – and rightly so. We certainly did throughout the proceedings and learned a great deal.


Of course, the same can be said for Fred Jones. The hard-working president/CEO of HAC represents the interests of some 80 per cent of civil helicopters – 130 operator members and 120 associate members. Jones is actively involved with various levels of government on a multitude of issues and is passionately engaged in working with operators to remain competitive in a rapidly changing environment. Jones brought a sense of calm dignity to the group, navigating key issues with great insight while offering a stern point of view when necessary – particularly when the discussion touched on the issue of working with Transport Canada.

As chair of HAC’s IFR committee and a passionate driver of the association’s NVIS working group, Bob Toews was able to shed light on key industry issues. The senior pilot with Calgary-based air amblance STARS was a spirited participant in the roundtable and quick to iron home the importance of the helicopter industry to the Canadian economy, reminding participants that strong governmental support is essential for the industry’s future success.

“Not only are we creating jobs for our industry, we are supporting the resource economy of Canada,” Toews said. “And more and more, if you read the economic analysis of Canada, that’s where our economy is going to be based. We can’t support the industry if we are not being supported ourselves.”

Walter Heneghan, vice-president of safety and quality at Canadian Helicopters, and Jimmy Emond, operations manager at Panorama Helicopters in Alma, Que., concurred, adding that careful attention to the specific needs of the helicopter industry must be accounted for in discussions where aviation-based issues such as fatigue management or call and duty times are considered.

Hydro One chief pilot John Bosomworth, brought a positive, objective approach to the group, relating, for example, that interactions with Transport Canada can indeed be constructive – a perspective echoed by Toews in reference to the NVIS working group. On the topics of training and career development, Paul Bergeron, president of Springbank, Alta.-based flight school Mountain View Helicopters, provided a constructive assessment of the challenges young professionals face when entering the industry.

It was a compelling discussion all around, underscoring the importance of sharing perspectives to uncover constructive solutions to important issues. At Helicopters we are committed to sharing the insights of key industry leaders on topics you need to know about. Stay tuned for more exciting roundtable discussions in the months and years ahead.


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