Home' Asian Aviation : AAV_February 2013 Contents AsianAviation | FEBRUARY 2013 37
Piston-engined helicopters dominate the fleet,
accounting for 64 percent of aircraft in fiscal 2011/12,
with 155 pistons joining the fleet in fiscal year 2011/12
alone. Robinson helicopters form the bulk of this, with
a 59 share, comprising the manufacturer's R22 (531
machines) and R44 (467 units) models.
Robinson is followed by the Bell Helicopter with
its Bell 47 (78 units), Hughes-Schweizer with its 269
model (53 units) and Rotorway (with 51 units). The
single-engine fleet is dominated by the Bell 206 (227
helicopters), Eurocopter AS350 (134 units), Hughes
369 (25 units), Eurocopter 120 (26 units) and Bell
OH-58 (18 units).
The multi-engine sector grew 7.6 percent during
the year to 211 helicopters. In June, the top five
registrations were the Bell 412 (with 33 units),
Kawasaki BK117 (31 units), Sikorsky S-76 (29 units),
Eurocopter 332 (22 units) and AgustaWestland 139
AHIA is expecting strong growth in the multi-
engine fleet, predicting it will more than treble from
211 to 756 over the next seven years, largely due
to growth in heavy industry in the north of Australia,
particularly major oil and gas projects.
But with growth come growing pains -- and the
Australian helicopter industry has its fair share of
those. Skills shortages, training requirements and
regulatory matters are all issues that need to be
addressed by the new body, according to Rich.
For example, there is already a lack of helicopter
instructors in the country, and with the new Australian
Army and Navy helicopter pilot training programme --
Helicopter Aircrew Training Systems (HATS) -- this is
likely to drain the country's flight training schools of
experienced staff. Engineering trades are also facing
shortages, a problem which is likely to continue and
worsen as the sector expands.
The AHIA also needs to be part of the regulatory
process. The association says there are long delays
and inefficiencies associated with CASA's pilot
licensing and examination system, while looming
regulatory changes will also affect the sector.
"Agencies such as CASA need our help when
planning to regulate new technology heading our
way," Rich recently wrote on industry internet forum
According to Rich, AHIA will need to ensure new
regulations are right for the local industry. "We must
accept the fact we are hurtling down the path to
translate a lot of our operational standards into those
used within Europe and the United States...Some
standards will need to be addressed before they
become law," he said.
The local industry also needs to be in a position
to exploit business opportunities in the wider Asia-
Pacific region as the helicopter fleets in those
countries grow, particularly in China.
The AHIA is aiming to tackle those problem areas.
The association says its mission is to promote
the Australian helicopter industry by working
with governments, regulatory authorities and the
community to ensure it is a safe, efficient and viable
industry readily able to adapt to the continuing needs
of customers by the pursuit of global best practice.
Among its objectives, the AHIA lists: promoting
safe helicopter operations; establishing an open,
productive working relationship with CASA;
developing an exchange of information amongst
helicopter owners, users, operators, pilots, engineers
and supporting industries; making representation to
governments at all levels on facilities, regulations,
legislation or modification for the advancement of
the industry; co-ordinating research to create off-
airport areas for helicopter operations; establishing
an exchange of information with other associations,
both national and international; and promoting new
helicopter services to the public.
The association is a non-profit organisation and
has a wider remit than its predecessor, which was
largely a pilots' group, necessitated by changes in
the industry and technology.
"In the past, this suited the needs of an industry
then operating relatively unsophisticated rotorcraft,
where logistic and maintenance support requirements
were minimal. Today, more expensive and technically
advanced helicopters are coming into service and
the logistical and technical support industry has
developed substantially due to the increasing number
of civilian and military heavy helicopters," says Rich.
The AHIA will cover areas including new operational
roles and advances in technology, and will have
groups to focus on industry sectors including search
and rescue, helicopter emergency medical services,
offshore, mustering, training, police and CASA
regulatory issues. The AHIA will also establish links
with international bodies, including the US Helicopter
"The aim of the overseas links is to be part of the
enormous growth in helicopter training activities
which will occur in the Asian region, in much the
same way as Australia supported the Asia-Pacific
airline industry pilot training programmes," adds Rich.
The body, which is headed by former Bell
Helicopter sales executive Peter Crook as president,
is planning a major presence at the Avalon air show.
Avalon show organiser Aerospace Australia has
provided sponsorship to the AHIA, which will allow
it to hold a conference and seminars at the show
to promote it to the Australian and international
The sector is particularly keen to promote its
capabilities to the wider Asia-Pacific region as
the region's helicopter fleet grows, along with
its requirements for training and other support
services. Small and medium enterprises will also be
showcasing their capabilities at Avalon in the Rotary
Wing Showcase area.
"This is a wonderful opportunity to promote
ourselves as best we can," says Rich.
"Agencies such as CASA need our help when planning to regulate new technology
heading our way." -- Rob Rich, AHIA founder and secretary
Australia ranks sixth in the world in terms of helicopter fleet size.
Expanding emergency medical services operations in the country have contributed to the growing fleet.
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