Carl Jones, a Bell 205 and 412 crew chief with the National Research Council of Canada, will receive the Rolls-Royce Excellence in Helicopter Maintenance award at Heli-Expo Salute to Excellence Awards dinner on March 8 at the Hilton Anatole Dallas. Jones was honored with the award for his outstanding career in helicopter maintenance.
Carl Jones became interested in helicopters in high school. His father, a former mechanic, owned a marina, so Jones was surrounded by boats. However, he turned away from the boating industry and decided to attend college in North Bay, Ontario, for aircraft maintenance. Jones recalled that approximately 23 people started on the course, and the majority of them gravitated towards fixed-wing operations. Once again forging his own path, he decided to study rotorcraft maintenance.
In 1977, Jones earned a position with Shirley Helicopters in Edmonton, Alberta. At the time, Shirley had approximately 50 helicopters and 20 apprentices. One of the older workers, Gerry Flesher, took the inexperienced Jones and his peers under his wing. Flesher ended up becoming one of Jones’s first mentors. "Usually all of your work is by yourself,” Jones explained, “but Gerry tried to steer us in the right direction, and he did a pretty good job. Pretty much everyone from Shirley moved on, and a lot of them are still in the career, if they’re still with us.”
After working for a small medevac company in Ontario, Jones joined the National Research Council (NRC) of Canada in 1994. A typical day as crew chief is very project heavy; sometimes maintenance professionals will complete weeks and weeks installing equipment on a project that will only fly for a few hours and then spend another week uninstalling all of their hard work. However, Jones finds that the hardest part about the job is finding solutions for complex problems. "A lot of times, we do stuff here [at the NRC] that’s never been done. That’s the whole exciting part about the job, that it’s never really dull. Lots of times they’ll come with a piece of equipment they need to install and we have to figure out a way to make it safe and make it happen in a timely timeframe.”
There have been many times when Jones has had to work on an extremely tight schedule. For example, there was once a deployment involving a failed combining gearbox on a PT6 Twin-Pac engine. Jones sourced and arranged the delivery of a replacement, removed the old unit and installed the new one, while scheduling to complete the project in its allotted timeframe. He sacrificed his evenings and weekends to ensure the job was properly completed.
In order to make sure he is always at the top of his game, Jones visits trade shows such as HAI and the Helicopter Association of Canada for technical sessions. While he always has an eye out for new technology, he says the best way to improve is to learn from the helicopter community.
The Rolls-Royce Excellence in Helicopter Maintenance award celebrates Jones’s hard work and contributions to the helicopter industry. He finds the award humbling and vows to use it as motivation to continue completing projects and finding solutions.