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Saturday, March 1, 2008

Rotorcraft Report: Schools and Operators Reap Benefits From Big Competitor’s Closure

TRAINING

Since the sudden, Feb. 3 shutdown of Silver State Helicopters nationwide network of flight training centers, phones have been ringing off the hook around the rotorcraft community.

For flight schools, the closure of a big competitor means the opportunity to bring on Silver State’s former students and flight instructors.

For operators, it means a newly enrich pool of experienced pilots — in the form of ex-Silver State instructors — in which to search for qualified job candidates.

Debbie Sparks, who manages Palm Beach Helicopters and the 13 Robinson Helicopter aircraft it uses in Lantana, Fla. for flight training, said her school is located about 35 mi from a former Silver State training center.

"We’ve had numerous phone calls and enquiries," she said, referring to the two dozen calls she’s received from former Silver State students.

"Some of them have enrolled, but have not started yet because they’re still working on their funding," she added.

For operators, Silver State’s 400-600 former pilots include experienced aviators suddenly anxious to find openings elsewhere.

"The jobs that were on the market were pretty well filled" by former Silver State pilots," said one out-of-work ex-instructor for the company, who asked that his name not be used. "I’m better off than most because I have most of my ratings. I’ve been talking to a Part 141 fixed-wing school about being an instructor." — Ernie Stephens

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