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Editorial: The Knowledge Quotient

If America’s most iconic president is correct in his assessment that knowledge in times of change is power, then those attending three superb industry shows this spring must be feeling enlightened, empowered and eager to conquer all challenges.


"in a time of turbulence and change, it is more true than ever that knowledge is power.” – John F. Kennedy

If America’s most iconic president is correct in his assessment that knowledge in times of change is power, then those attending three superb industry shows this spring must be feeling enlightened, empowered and eager to conquer all challenges.

March featured three “must attend” industry events, offering very different perspectives: Heli Expo March 5-8 in Orlando; the Helicopter Association of Canada’s 15th Annual Conference and Trade Show at Vancouver’s beautiful Pan Pacific Hotel March 25-27; and the rapidly growing CHC Safety & Quality Summit March 28-30 at the Westin Bayshore.

Said one industry colleague who attended all three events: “It’s been a whirlwind . . . It seems like I’ve been living out of a suitcase all month. But what a month.”

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What a month indeed. The busy show season kicked off in Orlando with arguably the industry’s most important event: the 63rd annual Heli Expo trade show. Featuring a record 625 exhibitors, more than 20,000 attendees (up from 596 exhibitors and 15,243 attendees a year ago), 65 helicopters on the floor, countless new products, and a variety of top-notch educational opportunities, the show offered attendees an excellent chance to assess the state of the industry and a glimpse into what lies ahead.

“It’s been a very positive event; there are real signs we’re headed in the right direction,” said StandardAero vice president of helicopter programs Tom Roche. StandardAero used the event to draw attention to its 100th anniversary. “For us, it’s been a great show on many levels.”

Eurocopter Canada’s Laura Senecal echoed Roche’s sentiments and is optimistic the market is ready for a turnaround. “It was a big week for us, and we’ve got a lot of good things coming up.” A big week for Eurocopter indeed. New business concluded during Heli Expo involved eight of Eurocopter’s helicopter types, including the dramatic introduction of the next-generation EC-145 T2, along with two members of its enhanced rotary-wing aircraft lineup. New agreements for 68 bookings came from operators in the United States, Canada, Europe and Russia. (For more on Heli Expo see, “Good Vibrations,” pg. 28.)

While Heli Expo 2011 offered plenty of glitz and a glimpse into where the industry is headed, HAC’s annual event took a more cerebral approach – an expanded educational program covering important issues that will shape the Canadian industry for years to come.

This year’s gathering featured a bevy of new programs for operators including pre- and post- educational opportunities on risk management, a mountain flying ground school, and a flying the wires course. Other top educational sessions included an hour with Transport Canada director general Martin Eley and HAC president Fred Jones, and an update from the International Helicopter Safety Team (IHST) on helicopter safety and incident rates from Canadian Helicopters’ Sylvain Seguin.

Helicopters magazine jumped into the fray, hosting its first-ever industry roundtable – an exclusive invite-only town hall meeting featuring HAC president Jones and several top Canadian operators. Discussion topics included strategies for dealing with tough economic realities; controversies over flight and duty times; the ongoing challenges of working with Transport Canada; pilot shortages; worker retention and more. Look for our roundtable report in the July/August issue and on the web at www.helicoptersmagazine.com.

Attendees I spoke with at this year’s event were pleased with the variety of content offered and re-affirmed the importance of staying abreast of so many critical industry issues.

All About Quality
The CHC Safety & Quality Summit is fast becoming one of the industries “must-attend” events and this year’s version didn’t disappoint. With impressive keynote speakers, arguably the most diverse educational lineup of any industry event and impeccable organization, it more than delivered on its theme: “Corporate Responsibility vs. Personal Accountability: Two Sides of the Same Coin.” It was a fast-paced, well-executed three days of thought-provoking analysis, ironing home the incredible commitment to safety that must be made at all levels of an organization (for more on the Summit, see “The Great Debate,” pg 12).

Heli Expo, HAC and the CHC Safety & Quality Summit – three very different conferences, each offering unique perspectives and value in times of great change. After all, JFK is right: knowledge is power.


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