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Tuesday, February 1, 2005

Heli-Expo Goes Home

The 57th annual gathering of the Helicopter Assn. International this month promises a fast-paced, productive week of workshops, receptions, symposiums, technical briefings, and formal and informal trade meetings.

The association returns to its birthplace of California, with more than 15,000 members, exhibitors and attendees coming together at the convention center in Anaheim, the Southern California city that is home to Disneyland and the Angels of major league baseball. HAI officials project that nearly 500 exhibitors will fill more than 400,000 sq. ft. of exhibit space in the convention center. More than 50 aircraft are expected to be on display, including Bell/Agusta Aerospace Co.'s AB139, newly certificated by the U.S. FAA, and the second version of the upgraded S-64 Skycrane that Erickson Air-Crane, Inc. has developed for the State Forestry Corps of Italy. Both Bell Helicopter Textron and Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. are expected to announce new aircraft programs at Heli-Expo 2005.

The annual event, the world's largest trade show dedicated to the civil helicopter industry, formally begins on Feb. 6 and continues through Feb. 8. HAI will hold its annual membership meeting and breakfast at 8 a.m. on Feb. 6. Heli-Expo 2005 formally begins with the opening ceremony at 10:45 a.m. that day.

With a key focus of this year's event on safety, HAI will conduct a two-hour safety symposium entitled "Analyzing Human Factors In Helicopter Accidents" the day before the show opens. Intended to tackle the rising rate of rotorcraft accidents in the last several years, the symposium will present a human factors research scientist from the FAA's Civil Aerospace Medical Institute in Oklahoma City, Okla. Dr. Bert Boquet will discuss the uses and advantages of the Human Factors Analysis and Classification System. Developed jointly by CAMI and the University of Illinois, this system provides a general framework around which accident investigation and prevention programs can be developed. Human factors--whether they involve errors by a pilot, a mechanic, a supervisor or management--are considered a root cause of about 75 percent of all helicopter accidents.

On the morning of Feb. 6, HAI will convene a "Safety Town Hall Meeting" to discuss new concepts in safety management. The association is seeking information on best practices used in the helicopter industry today with regards to safety and on success stories of existing safety management systems. Conducted by the HAI Safety Committee, the meeting is intended to allow operators, pilots, crewmembers, maintenance professionals and aviation managers to discuss how to better identify risks and develop tools with which to manage them. Workshops planned for Heli-Expo 2005 include aviation security, government contracting, heliport-design standards developments, legislative issues, operating-cost management, pending FAA rulemaking initiatives and HAI's Fly Neighborly noise-abatement program. The association will convene forums throughout Heli-Expo on regional rotorcraft markets, such as those in China, Japan, India and Latin America.

HAI also will host its third annual Job Fair on the afternoon of Feb. 6 to give recruiters and job seekers a chance to match employers' needs with prospective candidates' skills. For more information, contact Nicole Sonberg at 703-683-4646 or nicole.sonberg@rotor.com.

Also on Feb. 6, voting will be conducted for HAI's new board of directors. The next evening, the association will honor outstanding members of the rotorcraft community at its annual "Salute to Excellence" awards dinner at the Anaheim Marriott Hotel. The trade show will be preceded by nearly a week of training sessions. The sessions, which begin Feb. 1, include human factors in safety, human performance in maintenance, helicopter operator management, maintenance management, managing insurance costs, regulatory compliance, safety leadership and safety management. There are also courses on basic mountain flying and flying in wire and obstruction environments, as well as refresher courses for pilots and for flight instructors.

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