With some notable exceptions, the male of our species has dominated the helicopter industry from its beginning. So it is both significant and encouraging that Krisna Dewi—since 2014 the commercial manager of PT. Sayap Garuda Indah (Heli SGI and Air Bali) in Bali, Indonesia—is the recipient of HAI’s 2020 Safety Award.
This prestigious award recognizes Dewi’s “promotion of a business model that places safety above all other business elements, including profit. Her unwavering advocacy and determination to prioritize safety in the company’s operations has also resulted in increased business for her company during a period when Indonesia’s helicopter industry has experienced low or negative growth.” In short, Dewi’s safety-first business model reinvigorated the company.
During the downturn in helicopter support for offshore drilling in 2014 and amid uncertainty in Indonesia’s resource industry, Heli SGI faced an uncertain future. To turn things around, the company brought in industry expert Ronnie Fahy for guidance. As part of this process, Fahy interviewed the company’s employees. Krisna Dewi stood out because of her vision and plan to move the company forward.
Dewi had witnessed other operators reducing expenses and safety standards to offer customers lower prices. Her radical plan involved putting safety and quality above all else...and charging accordingly. The plan also included working only for clients who understood Heli SGI’s new business model and were willing to pay for a safety- and quality-first approach.
Dewi was quickly promoted to commercial manager, the second-highest position in the company. As a woman with no aviation background in an industry dominated by experienced men, she bore the responsibility of reviving the business and also the task of earning her colleagues’ respect. Accepting both challenges, she focused on turning around Heli SGI by providing higher levels of safety and quality than its competitors.
Dewi began the process by giving all prospective clients the same message: “Thank you for inviting us to talk. However, there’s one thing we need to make clear from the start: Heli SGI will not be the cheapest in your procurement process and will not enter into a bidding war. If that’s acceptable, let’s shake hands and begin moving forward.” As might be expected, some potential clients ended the meeting right there; and Dewi faced criticism.
However, with the full support from Heli SGI's board of directors, Dewi stood her ground and initiated the development of necessary safety and quality protocols. These included:
• health and usage monitoring systems in single-engine helicopters (not previously seen in the Indonesian helicopter industry);
• virtual-reality simulation training for longline pilots (another innovation for the Indonesian industry);
• bringing into Indonesia the dual-Fadec Eagle 407HP, an aircraft with increased power, payload, and range capabilities that critics considered overkill;
• FAA-approved training programs for longline pilots;
• substantial investment in SGI’s safety department;
• adoption of an open-book safety policy by sharing safety concerns with both clients and the industry at large.
When Dewi received her promotion in 2014, Heli SGI had been operating on one contract, flying 60 hours a month. Today, in part because of her work over the past five years, the company operates 12 helicopters on contract, flies 600 to 800 hours a month, and has several long-term contracts with large mining companies.
Dewi’s work has not gone unnoticed: other operators are now adopting the Heli SGI safety-first model. And while that means more competition, the end result is that not only has Dewi helped her company grow and become safer, she has helped Heli SGI make the industry safer, too.
The HAI Safety Award, sponsored by BLR Aerospace, acknowledges outstanding contributions in the promotion of safety and safety awareness throughout the international helicopter community.