Five years after the collapse of the Helicopter Association of Australia (HAA), the Australian helicopter industry is working on creating a new lobbying association. The current objective is to launch the Australian Helicopter Industry Association (AHIA) at the Avalon Air Show 2013, which will open on February 26. The helicopter industry Down Under is now growing at an annual rate of 11.4 percent.
The AHIA is being formed “to help an industry with growing pains,” said Rob Rich, who is behind the effort. He cites a need to seek “training and business opportunities for Australian companies in Asian countries” and the “disaffection by key players about long delays and inefficiencies with the civil aviation safety authority’s (CASA) pilot licensing and examination systems” as obstructions to the development of the nation’s helicopter industry.
The nonprofit AHIA will provide a wider coverage of the industry than its predecessor, which was “basically a pilots’ association,” according to Rich. The more expensive and technically advanced helicopters that are entering service and the logistical and technical support industry that has developed in the country have created a need for an association that covers wider issues.
One local rotary-wing specialty is cattle mustering. Almost half of Australia’s helicopters operate in mustering, and despite the fact that the season for the segment runs only from late March to October in most areas, mustering accounts for more hours than any other helicopter application. One issue up for discussion within the fledgling association will be the proposed imposition of a local carbon tax, which operators fear will have a significant impact on cattle mustering.
The HAA is said to have disappeared because of the 2008 financial crisis, which came at a time when HAA executives tried to change the business model by employing salaried staff.