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Thursday, July 28, 2011

Chairing Helitech in its 25th Year—from Offshore Wind Farms to Blue Light Services

By Andrew Drwiega, Military Editor

Having attended Helitech, the dedicated helicopter show staged biannually at the Imperial War Museum Duxford in Cambridgeshire, UK, as a press visitor over the last decade, this year I have an additional role. I’m chairing the Helitech Conference on organizer Reed’s behalf, in addition to my more regular beat of covering the news and opinions on behalf of the Rotor & Wing team.

“Wait a minute,” I hear you call. This guy is a military rotorcraft specialist—how come he’s doing civil? When you attend as many briefings and receive as many press releases as we in the aviation press receive each week, month and year—you get to be intimately familiar with the rotorcraft industry in its entirety.

With Helitech celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, the conference was deliberately designed to offer something for everyone—hence there is no overriding theme. Bell Helicopter quickly jumped in as the conference’s main sponsor and will receive all the recognition that comes with this milestone event.

While the conference may focus down on individual topics in subsequent years, this year the focus settled on new business opportunities—hence offshore wind farms. We were also mindful of the furor surrounding the terrible incident at the Fukushima nuclear facility in Japan, and the effect that had on governments looking for a safer source of power generation.

In Europe, offshore wind farms have caught the imagination of more than one government as part of the solution and therefore the presentation from the European Wind Energy Association is one that will generate much interest during the conference. An EWEA report has estimated that by 2050, offshore wind farm energy production will be double that of onshore wind farms and that “wind power could provide 50 per cent of the EU’s electricity supply by 2050.” That is some market that will need servicing!

‘Blue Light’ Operations (emergency services) have also been included on the understanding that, in the UK particularly, the government is trying to wring out more value for money and cut budgets across the publicly owned service spectrum. What value do the traditional blue light services bring in terms of their rotary aviation contribution and potential—and what is the best way to maximize that value?

Unsurprisingly we have also included insightful presentations on the themes of research and development, with its ambition to help improve the environment, and flight and operational safety.

Finally, Reed has secured the exclusive support for two years of the British Helicopter Association and I will turn over the last session to Peter Norton, chairman of the BHA and his professional European speakers representing the European Helicopter Association and the European Aviation Safety Agency.

It was decided early that the conference should support, rather than compete with, the main exhibition. Many people use Helitech as a meeting point and the first day is especially busy. For this reason the conference will begin after lunch on the second day and run through to the morning of the third day (1:00 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 28th through 1:00 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 29th).

We believe that this will help to maximize the benefit that attendees will get from all aspects of Helitech at Duxford. As a final note, it is free to attend the conference but places are limited and pre-registration will ensure that you get a place. For more information about the event visit www.helitechevents.com/conference

I hope to see you there,

Andrew Drwiega
Military Editor
Rotor & Wing

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