HAC first received its Letters Patent as a Canadian Not-for-Profit Corporation on June 1 1995 under its founding directors, Barry Hewko, Ken Norie, and Charlie Mooney. Its corporate objects have changed very little in the past 20 years. They still include:
- The promotion of flight safety
- Developing the expanded utilization of helicopter transport at all levels of Canadian life
- Exchanging maintenance practices and common issues among members
- To educate members, civil servants, and the general public about issues important to the industry
- To promote a political and regulatory environment that will foster a prosperous Canadian helicopter industry
In less than two years, HAC’s membership had grown to 40 operator-members and 40 associates, including a group of Corporate Sponsors. To this day, HAC’s associates play a central role in the success of the association, and in the success of its operator members.
The association continued to grow; first under an executive director, Keith Routley, and then through a management agreement with the British Columbia Aviation Council’s (BCAC) Jerry Lloyd and through Brian Jenner, an established industry lobbyist also working at that time as the president and CEO of the Association Quebecoise des Transporeurs Aeriens (AQTA). Under the stewardship of Al Eustis as HAC’s chairman and president, Brian Jenner’s role as executive consultant was transitioned to the role of HAC’s first president and CEO, responsible for all the activities of HAC, and answerable to HAC’s Board of Directors, where he lead the association for next 10 years.
Over the years, HAC’s Board of Directors has truly reflected the depth and diversity of experience in the helicopter community – and the helicopter community gratefully acknowledges the leadership and dedication of those individuals, past and present, for their role in the evolution of HAC, their dedication, and willingness to contribute to the development of the association.
As HAC grew and matured, the association became more engaged with other stakeholders in the aviation community – in Canada and internationally. The association’s management and members became more engaged in dialogue with Transport Canada and more involved with other associations like the Helicopter Association International (HAI), the International Federation of Helicopter Associations (IFHA), the Canadian Aviation Maintenance Council (CAMC – now, the Canadian Council for Aviation and Aerospace), and on NAV CANADA’s advisory committee. In the late 1990’s HAC’s committee structure began to gel as a forum for operators and associates to raise and discuss issues affecting their interests. HAC’s committees included Air Taxi, Exhibitors, Finance, Flying Training Units, Heli-Logging, IFR/EMS, Maintenance & Manufacturing – and last but certainly not least, the Safety committee.
HAC later spawned a Utility Flight Operations committee and an Airborne Law Enforcement committee. Many of these committees still exist today and their chairs and members provide dedicated leadership and advice to HAC staff and its Board of Directors on the issues of the day facing our industry.
In 2008, HAC’s leadership transitioned to Fred Jones as the association’s new president and CEO. Shortly thereafter, HAC established a small office in Ottawa and renewed its commitment to the Canadian Business Aviation Association (CBAA) for shared administrative services. In 2010, HAC moved to completely independent operations in leased office space of its own in downtown Ottawa, and this year, the association purchased a small office-condo to serve as its permanent home.Today, some 20 years since its inception, HAC still remains a grass-roots organization, committed to the principles and ideals of its founding members. The association’s members remain firmly committed to HAC and its on-going efforts to provide a strong and unified voice for the Canadian helicopter industry – truly, together it is are stronger. Association management, our staff and our board also remain committed to “Bringing the industry together” through HAC.
Fred Jones is the president/CEO of the Helicopter Association of Canada and a regular contributor to Helicopters magazine.