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2018 Heli-Expo on Record-breaking Pace [复制链接]

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发表于 2018-2-27 23:00:05 |显示全部楼层
本帖最后由 XLC 于 2018-2-27 23:02 编辑

The 2017 Heli-Expo in Dallas, Texas, drew 17,788 people, 731 exhibiting businesses and 62 aircraft on display. (Photo: Mariano Rosales)


The Helicopter Association International’s 2018 edition of Heli-Expo in Las Vegas is shaping up to be another record-breaker with the floor nearly sold out by mid-January, association executives said. While still too early to tell—president and CEO Matt Zuccaro emphasizes that the final numbers will not be known until “we’re sitting in Vegas”—early metrics such as registrations, floor space, and hotel rooms booked by mid-January were all pointing to a show that could surpass last year’s tallies.


The 2017 Heli-Expo, held at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in Dallas, Texas, drew 17,788 people, 731 exhibiting businesses and 62 aircraft on display. In addition, the entire available floor space was sold, spanning a Heli-Expo record of 322,800 net sq ft of exhibits and displays.


“We have some great benchmarking capability to give us an indication as to how the [2018] show is developing,” Zuccaro said. “And right now it looks like we’re tracking toward the largest exhibit floor that we’ve ever had.”


Las Vegas has traditionally been a strong draw for conventions such as Heli-Expo, but Zuccaro believes that is only a small part of the growth. “All the comments we’re receiving are extremely positive. The show on its own is creating a buzz,” he said, adding the mood is upbeat, given the uptick in economic indicators.


“We’ve always looked at Heli-Expo as a bellwether to measure how the industry overall is doing. As the show produces the numbers—the participation and business activity on floor—it tells us in an indirect way how industry is doing,” he said.


The show has expanded in various metrics in recent years, he believes, on the strength of the diversity of the industry. “When a particular element in the industry is having a difficult time, we have the ability to take those aircraft and those resources and staff to move them to other mission profiles and use them to their maximum capability,” Zuccaro said.


He acknowledged the struggles of the oil-and-gas segment over the past several years. But this year, it looks as if it is on the verge of recovery, he said. “The price of oil is going up. The overall economic situation worldwide and in the U.S. over the last year has done quite well. We’re just experiencing that.”


In addition to the improving economy, the industry is gathering following one of the “greatest humanitarian challenges that we’ve ever seen in terms of earthquakes, fires, floods, and hurricanes,” Zuccaro said, expressing pride in the industry’s response. “The helicopter industry has responded to those in a phenomenal manner. It was a real highlight over the last year. People were in awe of what we did.”


SAFETY EDUCATION

Heli-Expo will serve as a venue to recognize some of those involved in responses and continue to highlight the value the industry overall provides to society, he said. But at the same time it will serve as a venue to review lessons learned. The activities will be reviewed in various meetings to discuss how the industry can become even more effective, Zuccaro said. “We always try to take advantage [of events] as learning experiences and improve our efficiencies.”


The Helicopter Foundation International (HFI) is bringing back the Rotorcraft Safety Challenge events hosted every year at Heli-Expo. The challenge, involving dozens of topic-specific safety forums that provide opportunities for certification credit, is always a top draw, and events are often standing-room only, he said. In Dallas, 1,500 attendees participated in 62 Rotor Safety Challenge sessions. Zuccaro stressed that this is particularly important, because safety continues to be the primary focus of HAI.


The safety sessions will include discussions both from the operator’s and the pilot’s standpoint on the HFI "Land and Live" program. Launched during the 2014 Heli-Expo, the program is designed to train operators to “land the damn helicopter” when they encounter problems, Zuccaro said. “We can land helicopters anywhere and we do it everyday. You name it and we put helicopters there and we’re really good at it,” he said. “But when we fly in deteriorating weather, encounter low fuel, or run into maintenance issues, we don’t land the helicopter. In this day and age, we are still running out of fuel. That’s a classic example of bad decision-making.”


There is no cost to following a protocol to landing the helicopter, he said, but it can save lives. Zuccaro was pleased that the program has begun to take root with a number of operators subscribing to the practice. He noted the response he’s gotten from operators, including one email from an emergency medical services pilot who thanked him, saying he chose to land the helicopter. The pilot told Zuccaro he was convinced that had he kept flying, it would have had fatal consequences to all aboard.


The program is part of a cultural shift that Zuccaro believes needs to take place and is part of what gets highlighted at Heli-Expo. “Safety has all kinds of elements: there’s regulation, there’s technology, there’s policies and procedures like safety management systems, there’s accreditations and there’s training. All those are critical to achieve our safety goals. But the most critical thing that is going to get us over the line is a cultural change. It’s a philosophical change.”


REGULATORY ISSUES

Beyond safety, a host of other operational, regulatory, and political issues will be discussed through committee meetings and other sessions and forums. These cover nearly every aspect of the varied helicopter operations, Zuccaro said. One of the foremost issues is the effort to separate the air traffic organization from the FAA. HAI is aligned with the general aviation community in opposition to that effort, he said, noting the association has grave concerns about such a prospect.


Also industry and regulators are expected to discuss the potential of a rewrite of some of the Part 27 and Part 29 regulations governing helicopter certification to incorporate some of the risk-based and consensus standards approaches recently adopted for Part 23 general aviation aircraft certification rules. An informal committee has been reviewing Parts 27 and 29 certification procedures, but Zuccaro is hoping that this year’s Heli-Expo can serve as a “benchmark to get to the next step” with a more formal approach, such as an Aviation Rulemaking Committee.


Another potential issue facing the industry as it gathers for Heli-Expo is ADS-B equipage. Zuccaro expressed concern about a “crunch” for helicopter operator equipage as the 2020 deadline approaches, with shop space anticipated to become limited.


Helicopter operators were among the earliest of adopters, he said, referring to the work of the alliance of Gulf of Mexico operators involved in the Helicopter Safety Advisory Conference. Thanks to that coalition, more than $100 million in services and equipment were installed and operators now have ADS-B benefits with real-time weather and communications down to the rigs, he said. That effort has produced results, Zuccaro said, noting 2016 data shows that members of the HSAC did not have an accident of the Gulf of Mexico. He would like to see that further adopted throughout the industry.


HAI’s next effort, he said. is to implement lower-level IFR dedicated routing and approaches in the air ambulance environment. Individual operators and hospitals have established their own approaches, but the program would take it to the next level, he said. The technology already exists to take Helicopter TAWS and terrain and obstacle data and overlay that with FAA data, providing the possibility to be able to pull up instrument approaches at accident scenes. The possibility is under study with the FAA and NASA. “That is the kind of advancements were working on,” he said.


In addition to discussion about safety and other issues, Heli-Expo will have an increased focus on maintenance and maintenance technicians. “We want to make sure we give the same attention to the maintenance side, which is absolutely critical to operations,” he said. Among other activities, the show will include an inspection authorization renewal program for technicians.


Along with technician development will be partnerships with local high schools, technical schools, and colleges to provide orientation sessions for students interested in entering the industry. In addition, Heli-Expo will continue to host a clinic that is designed to help transition military veterans to the civilian service side. That session also tends to be standing room only, Zuccaro said, adding show organizers keep looking for bigger rooms to host it. “Our industry is made up of so many veterans. We all went through that,” he said adding, the industry wants to help support the transition. “We need them.”


The educational efforts are particularly important as the rotorcraft industry worries about pilot and technician shortages. HAI is expecting to unveil the results of a workforce study during Heli-Expo. Conducted by the University of North Dakota, the study will explore future requirements for pilots and technicians and the anticipated potential supply coming in to the industry. “We have a shortage and it is getting worse,” Zuccaro said. In addition to releasing the survey, HAI will discuss steps it can take with industry, government, the military, and schools to alleviate the problem.


Another area of increased focus is unmanned systems, with new exhibitors, UAS demonstration cages and discussions through various information sessions. Beyond UAS, Zuccaro believes the show will host product unveilings, including those on new technologies, but was not at liberty to detail those unveilings.


Looking forward, HAI is planning out the next several Heli-Expos, with the show anticipated to land next year in Atlanta and Anaheim, California, the following year.

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