Rotortech 2014 Signals Strong Growth of Australian Helicopter Industry
The Australia Helicopter Industry Association (AHIA) has announced that the new Rotortech 2014 show will be held from May 24 to 25 at the Novotel Twin Waters Resort in Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia. Space is available for 20 small helicopters or 15 medium helicopters at the show site, according to the organizers, and there are 25 display booths for exhibitors in the main conference area, many of which have already been booked. The Rotortech 2014 show is AHIA’s first big show since the organization was founded in November 2012. More information is available at www.bladeslapper.com (see the AHIA thread).
Australia currently has about 2,077 helicopters on its register, the sixth largest fleet in the world, according to the AHIA. Since 2008, the fleet has grown an average of 6 percent per year. The current numbers (which likely have changed by the time this issue is published) include 1,301 piston singles, 544 single-engine turbines and 228 multiengine helicopters, for a total of 13.7 percent of the Australian aircraft fleet.
Growth in the helicopter industry is strongest in the northern territories, according to the AHIA, which boast about two-thirds of the 2,077 helicopters in the country. These regions also have more than half of the air operators certificates (AOCs) issued by Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA). Growth of the ranks of helicopter pilots has been strong over the past five years, with helicopter ATPs up 22 percent, to 750, commercial pilots up 11 percent, to 1,678 and private helicopter pilots up significantly, by 46 percent, to 822. “The latter reflects the rapid growth of private helicopter owners; many conduct mustering operations on their properties or use them in business activities,” the AHIA noted in the January edition of Helicopters Australia, AHIA’s e-newsletter.
“Unfortunately, we provide 25 percent of all accidents. This is the result from half our flying involves low-level aerial work, coupled with the high accident rate of the private owners–a problem noted in both aeroplane and helicopter operations.”
Some of the issues that the AHIA is addressing this year include CASA’s transition to EASA rules. One key area of this effort is CASR Part 61 (flight crew licensing). While that was supposed to take effect last December, CASA has moved the date to Sept. 1, 2014. AHIA is working closely with CASA on the transition. “It has a transition process of three years,” according to the AHIA, “requiring a restructure of the training industry. The AHIA is working with CASA to help the Manual of Standards (MoS) line up with CASR Part 61. It is a large project that will not be completed until well into 2014.”
Notices of proposed rulemaking are due this year for two key areas, CASR Part 133 (Australian Air Operations–Rotorcraft) and CASR Part 138 (Aerial Work Operations–Rotorcraft). The AHIA is concerned about carriage of aero-medical patients being moved from aerial work, which is the current regulatory structure, to charter. “This triggers a lot of additional compliance requirements. Aerial work operations will also be reclassified in some areas, with a new system of Operation Certificates replacing current AOCs…most requiring CASA’s approval.” Of more pressing concern, the AHIA added, “[are] the proposed performance standards and their impact on flying operations and various categories of helicopters. CASA’s need to seek ‘harmonization’ with EASA’s rules is not understood and the need to have forced landing areas during some flight regimes, especially during takeoff and landing, is now subject to an AHIA working group to educate operators on the intent of the proposed legislation.”
Rotortech 2014 promises to be a significant event on the worldwide airshow circuit and a kickoff for growing opportunities in the Australia helicopter market, which is expected to continue growing as energy and mineral resource development firms expand. [Rotortech 2014] “reflects the determination of the executive and growing membership to provide a strong and capable representative service on behalf of the helicopter industry during a period of strong growth,” the AHIA said.