Under pressure from its competitors, Eurocopter–still the number-one manufacturer in the civil helicopter market–is working hard to cope with a rapid production ramp-up of its own helicopters at a time when rivals are introducing a dizzying array of new models.
Interviews with people of interest in aerospace, including those in industry, government and AIN’s “Bizav Warriors.” Topics include announcements of personnel changes, awards and final departures.
Bell Helicopter CEO Richard Millman yesterday emerged from the company’s booth (No. 1333) long enough to explain to HAI Convention News what he’s been up to since taking the helm of the company in January.
McKinney Aerospace recently announced several personnel changes. Rick Brainard, formerly v-p of sales and marketing, is now v-p of engineering, certification and quality. Billy McDonald, formerly director of interior completions, has been promoted to v-p of completions. Stephen McNally, formerly director of maintenance, was promoted to v-p of maintenance.
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.
The helicopter industry as a whole is as healthy as it has ever been, at a time when the retirements of Vietnam-era pilots and mechanics are causing a shortage of qualified personnel.
HAI president Matt Zuccaro said the situation has not reached the crisis level yet, but he added that the shortage is being felt by operators who are having trouble filling the seats of their helicopters with qualified pilots.
AgustaWestland often is overshadowed by that “other” major European helicopter manufacturer, cross-continent rival Eurocopter. But while Eurocopter outsells AgustaWestland (Booth No. 529) by a wide margin, it has yet to come up with an answer to the AW139 (although it hopes its new EC 175 will be a strong competitor) and has nothing like the BA609 tiltrotor on its drawing board–as far as we know.
At Heli-Expo last year, MD Helicopters CEO Lynn Tilton revealed the details of an ambitious agenda for revitalizing the troubled company. It included plans for building helicopter fuselages in Mexico, bringing more component production in-house and making product-support improvements.
The company is now on the road to recovery, but it hasn’t been easy, Tilton admits, and the work is far from done.
Former HAI president Roy Resavage died last month after a long illness. He was 62. Resavage spent seven years at the helm of HAI, where he led the association through difficult financial times. He is credited with improving operational efficiency and the financial health of the association, as well as increasing attendance at Heli-Expo.
Former Free Flight Phase 1 director Charles Keegan has been appointed vice president for operations planning in the FAA’s Air Traffic Management Organization (ATO), succeeding Norman Fujisaki, who is retiring. Keegan will continue as director of the Joint Planning and Development Office (JPDO), the interagency organization developing the long-term plan for the next-generation air transport system.
William Gilbert, former board member and chairman of NBAA, died. Gilbert served on the NBAA board from 1970 to 1980 and as chairman from 1975 to 1977. He was a former chief pilot for Weyerhaeuser’s flight department, which he helped build from a small Twin Beech operation into one that operated various aircraft with several bases around the country.