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Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Editor's Notebook: Happy “New Year”

One might argue that Heli-Expo marks the beginning of the business year for the rotorcraft industry.

Other events come earlier in the New Year, certainly. But HAI’s annual gathering is arguably the largest all-helicopter trade show in the world. It does tend to focus the mind of rotorcraft executives on what their key initiatives will be in 10 months to come after the leisurely weeks of the year-end holidays.

We know that good practice calls for thinking strategically, planning accordingly and sticking to that plan. Business guru Stephen Covey, I recall, referred to it as the “big rocks” approach: concentrate on the tasks of major consequence and don’t get distracted by pebbles.

We’d like to believe we are inclined to follow such an approach and that the leaders around and above us certainly do so.

But here at R&WI, we spent late January and most of February tracking down what exhibitors plan to highlight at this year’s show in Louisville, Kentucky, and it was only in the days leading up to press time on Feb. 18 that we began to get definitive answers. You can look for what we found in our Heli-Expo 2016 Show Day, which will be distributed in Louisville on March 1—the day Heli-Expo’s exhibits open.

We have some things planned ourselves for 2016. Those of you attending Heli-Expo will learn more in the special double issue we are handing out at the show, but I’ll give you a peek or two here.

Recognizing that navigation by instruments and under positive control of air traffic control offers great potential for improving helicopter safety, we at R&WI are partnering with Hughes Aerospace and a panel of judges (made up of industry leaders and contributors to this magazine) to select a helicopter operator to receive a set of instrument approach and departure procedures.

Hughes is an FAA- and ICAO-certified third-party air navigation services provider that will work with the selected operator to develop those instrument-flight-rules capabilities, which we and Hughes expect will benefit the broader community that the selected operator serves.

We’ll have more on that at Heli-Expo and afterward; you can learn more at www.rotorandwing.com/IFRHelicopterEndowment.

The recipient of the IFR Helicopter Endowment will be announced in September at the 2016 Rotorcraft Technology Summit, which will convene in Fort Worth. This event will build on the success of our 2015 Rotorcraft Certification Summit and will focus on the business aspects of fielding new technology and capabilities. Discussions during that Sept. 19 to 20 event, we fully expect, will include the state of the low-level infrastructure for helicopter operations and new efforts to pursue improvements of it.

We plan to develop the program for that summit with the founding members of R&WI’s Editorial Advisory Board. We established this board of distinguished business and rotorcraft leaders to guide this magazine in its mission to serve as the business resource for rotorcraft management around the world. We will be sharing the details of that board’s membership in the weeks ahead. I personally am thrilled at the opportunity to learn from the board members’ individual and collective wisdom and experience.

In our ongoing efforts to fulfill that mission, this month we present a set of articles aimed at helping our readers manage familiar issues and emerging ones.

Editor-at-Large Ernie Stephens and newly returned contributor Todd Vorenkamp explore the challenges that smaller operators and their MRO providers face in ensuring compliance with maintenance requirements while avoiding serious disruptions to their operations.

Technical Editor Joseph Ambrogne examines the work of the FAA’s new industry-led Rotorcraft Occupant Protection Working Group, specifically factors surrounding its assessment of the costs and benefits of improving measures for protecting pilots and passengers involved in crashes.

From our sister publication Avionics Magazine, Associate Editor Woodrow Bellamy III takes a fresh look at the FAA and industry’s continuing efforts to manage the impact of new avionics mandates on commercial helicopter operations.

I hope you find these articles and our other initiatives beneficial and that you each have a fruitful Heli-Expo. Come see us there (at Booth 11933), and let us know what you think of the magazine and its work.

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