On 29th November, Leaders from across the UK Helicopter Industry gathered in Henley for a Round Table meeting the aim of which was to bring together front-runners representing the whole gamut of onshore business for an afternoon and evening of informal discussions on areas of mutual interest. BHA member, Mike O’Donoghue chaired the Round Table which was conducted under the Chatham House Rule. BHA Chief Executive, Tim Fauchon, was a member of the Round Table in his own right as a leader within the industry.
Three key themes emerged during the day:
• The economic state of the UK Helicopter Industry
• Shortages in engineering, and technical recruitment
• Issues with regulations within the industry
The Leaders agreed that sales and activity levels in the UK Helicopter Industry had been adversely affected by currency issues although some encouraging green shoots of a slow market recovery had been observed. When put to the vote all were agreed that the effect of Brexit was an unknown quantity and at this juncture it was hard to gauge the effects on the industry.
A major area of concern to all of the leaders was the shortage of suitably qualified and experienced people in the UK Helicopter Industry particularly senior maintenance personnel and flying instructors. There was considerable discussion about the need for recruitment initiatives and examples of ways in which the situation was being addressed by companies were freely shared among the leaders. It was felt that Government help was needed to redress the situation and some ideas including contacting constituency MPs and Government Departments surfaced together with the need to reach out to young people at the pre-A Level stage to interest them in careers in the rotary wing aerospace sector.
On the regulatory front, there was concern about engineering quality control in some areas particularly in the less regulated areas of the industry which at best damaged the maintenance reputation of the industry and at worst were safety issues. The impact of performance based navigation and GNSS approaches was also covered.
The notes from the Round Table will be forwarded to influencers and executives in the industry who are able to address the issues raised.
The Round Table was followed by a reception and dinner generously sponsored by John Brennan of AvBuyer. This was followed by further informal discussions in convivial surroundings lasting well into the night when much networking took place.
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