HAI Convention News

Job fair draws crowds looking for rotor work

 - February 23, 2009, 2:07 PM

HAI held its seventh Heli-Expo Job Fair on Sunday from 1:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. in three ballrooms on Level 3 of the Anaheim Convention Center. Some 30 companies sent human relations personnel, recruiters and others to talk employment with what turned out to be a steady stream of job seekers.

HAI Convention News went to the ballrooms when the doors opened and found groups of people lined up to or crowded around nearly every company table. When we went back at 4:15 p.m., the crowds were thinner, but several companies still had lines, including Bristow Helicopters, Evergreen Helicopters, Papillon Helicopters, Reach Air Medical Services, ERA Helicopters and Temsco Helicopters, which actually had a line of people right up to closing time. As the lines disappeared, we could talk with some of the employers’ representatives.

“I brought 1,000 business cards to Heli-Expo and handed them all out here and downstairs this morning at the AgustaWestland stand,” said Alan Hancock, manager of staffing and talent at AgustaWestland. The helicopter manufacturer is looking to fill 30 positions at its Hagerstown, Md. and Reston, Va. facilities, including engineers, sales people, marketing staff and “touch labor,” which he said are A&P mechanics and avionics technicians. Holding a stack of 150 résumés, he said, “It’s been a great show. There are a lot of qualified people here.”

Michelle Glancy, director of human resources for Reach Air Medical Services, said several hundred people came to her company’s table, but only about 15 percent were qualified. “As an EMS operator, we require 3,000 hours minimum for pilots, and we saw a lot of low-time pilots,” she said. Reach is based in Santa Rosa, Calif., and has operations all over California and in Oregon. “We’re opening a new base in Lancaster [Calif.] so we need five pilots there,” she said. This is the fourth or fifth year Reach has participated in the job fair and Glancy said she considered it very successful. “We’re seeing an influx of military pilots who are about to leave the service and some former corporate helicopter pilots looking to get into EMS,” she added.

Ed Tomko, HR manager at Keystone Helicopter/Sikorsky, said “an engineer is worth his weight in gold” to him and he would have been happy if he found one. He got two. Both had second interviews with one of Keystone’s vice presidents and will be flown to Keystone’s Coatesville, Pa. facility for final interviews. “Keystone is expanding and therefore has a huge requirement for engineers and we’re also looking for good A&P mechanics and composites technicians,” he said, “but not pilots at this time.”

Erickson Air Crane is looking for mechanics, pilots, sales reps, contract managers and a computer programmer, said Shane Scribner, Erickson supervisor of rotor blade repair. “We got a few résumés for the sales rep positions, a few people with contract experience and a lot of pilot and mechanic résumés,” he said. He estimated he had collected about 50 résumés.

Jeff Andes, MD Helicopters human resources, said he expected to see more engineers at the job fair. He estimated that about 80 percent of the people he saw were pilots, 10 percent were mechanics and 10 percent were engineers. “I didn’t find anyone with the qualifications we need,” he said, explaining that MD wants CFIs with at least 2,000 hours. Civil pilots right out of training have only a couple hundred hours, he said, while ex-military pilots have maybe 900 hours. He also mentioned that MD does not pay relocation expenses for mechanics. Because it is hard to sell a house in southern California right now, this likely limited the number of mechanic applications, Andes said. Nevertheless, he found the job fair worthwhile because he was able to network with other HR people.

At the FlightSafety International table, Mary Condie, corporate director of recruitment, said she had seen a steady stream of people throughout the afternoon.
FSI is looking for instructor pilots and mechanics and marketing people, and Condie said she spoke with some good candidates. “We want pilots with at least 2,000 hours and CFI, because they will approve type ratings,” she explained. “It takes four to six months to train an instructor, so we look for people who are considering a career change, not just a stepping stone to another flying job.”

The line in front of Papillon Helicopters was one of longest throughout the afternoon and diminished only toward about 4:45 pm. Training director Michael Gullotti told HAI Convention News that pilots who’ve built time while flight instructing are attracted to Papillon because they can transition to flying turbine-powered helicopters, which leads to other, better paying jobs. He estimated he had collected about 100 résumés. Papillon currently has 48 pilots at two bases, Las Vegas/Boulder and South Rim on the Grand Canyon. The former is not hiring, but the latter needs 15 pilots. South Rim, however, is a seasonal operation, Gullotti said, flying only during the summer tourist season.