LAS VEGAS, 7 March 2013. Helicopters have weathered the economic storm better than any other aviation segment, affirms Matt Zuccaro, president of Helicopter Association International (HAI), during HAI’s Heli-Expo 2013 conference and exhibition in Las Vegas.
Zuccaro stresses the importance of a zero-tolerance approach to helicopter accidents. “The industry’s future is in safety,” he says.
Noise complaints related to helicopter traffic in New York prompted the application of political pressure on the FAA, resulting in an FAA mandate and new helicopter routes. Forcing helicopters into a smaller corridor lends to increased congestion and safety degradation, Zuccaro explains. The so-called Schumer Initiative (Chuck Schumer, D-NY) is said to have resulted from complaints (a majority of which came from the same roughly eight households) and is not based on any other tangible research, investigations, or studies.
Such initiatives are expected to “move across the country”—similar legislation is being proposed in Los Angeles, in fact—and soon affect other aviation segments. “When they are done with us, they will come to fixed-wing, general aviation airports,” Zuccaro predicts. HAI executives want a congressional hearing on the topic. “It’s that important,” he says.
“Airspace constraints are a major concern,” Zuccaro adds. HAI is involved in protecting existing heliports and supporting new and future heliports.
Another very pressing concern of the helicopter community is the need for pilots and maintenance personnel. Large industry firms are beginning to acquire training facilities and ancillary businesses, such as helicopter tour service companies