HAI president Matt Zuccaro gave an upbeat assessment of the helicopter industry on the eve of Heli-Expo 2014. “Air tours are doing well, corporate operations have re-established themselves and offshore oil and gas work is very busy right now, so it’s a pretty positive picture,” he said. Nonetheless, the industry faces challenges including a potential shortage of pilots and mechanics.
“The younger generation has so many options,” said Zuccaro. “We’re starting a sales and marketing campaign to show them being a pilot or a mechanic is a good career path.”
Of more immediate concern are “unwarranted” regulations being driven by political grandstanding that might actually impinge on safety, Zuccaro said. “It’s at the point right now where regulations mandating [helicopter] routes and altitudes have become the forum of elected officials. They’re not even asking the FAA anymore; they’re telling them, ‘We want you to put in regulations on routes and altitudes’ based on [constituents’] complaints.”
Zuccaro said HAI and its members respect people’s concerns, but added, “Legislators are making regulatory decisions without any study of what the realignment would mean. It’s not being done for safety or for airspace efficiency. It’s being done for a small group of people who have gotten the ears of elected officials.”