HAI president Matt Zuccaro sees a bright future for the helicopter industry and is optimistic that Heli-Expo’07 may break attendance records set at last year’s show
in Dallas. “Indications are that we have a chance at it,” he said at yesterday’s HAI press conference.
Most important, he said, is safety. “Safety is the prime topic. It’s going to be on the agenda at HAI for the entire year. It’s the issue that affects everything we do on a day-to-day basis and it’s the one thing that has commonality throughout the entire industry. If we don’t have an adequate safety initiative, that has a detrimental effect on everything else we do.”
Safety is important not only for the operators’ benefit but also to ensure that the public’s perception of helicopters doesn’t suffer. “Public perception is based on their perception of the safety of the industry,” Zuccaro said.
It’s been a year since the launch of the International Helicopter Safety Team, co-sponsored by HAI and the FAA’s Rotorcraft Directorate. The IHST’s goal is to lower the rotorcraft accident rate by 80 percent over the next 10 years, using analysis tools and protocols already developed and successfully implemented by the airline industry.
The Joint Helicopter Safety Analysis Team, formed to take the important step of analyzing accident data, held its first conference last October and delivered results of its preliminary analysis to the newly formed Joint Helicopter Safety Implementation Team. “That team will take this data,” Zuccaro said, “and come up with what they think are remedial actions to enhance and improve the safety record of the helicopter industry internationally.” He added, “We are conscious that we have to prove the business case for the implementation of this information.”
The goal is “a cultural mindset change,” Zuccaro said, “so that everyone who’s involved in the decision-making process or operational control of the helicopter will have safety first, above all, in their mental outlook.” This is important not only for the operators but also for those who pay for helicopter services. “The client base needs to be part of the process because once they understand what a safety initiative is, they will understand why you’re operating the way you are, and they’ll have a better appreciation of why you have safety initiatives.”