Long-established helicopter appraisers HeliValue$ has used the opportunity of lockdown, and have pivoted their work to appraise helicopters remotely. From a recent Helicopter Investor town hall webinar where both President Jason Kmiecik and Owner Sharon Desfor spoke, it is clear that the company is leading the way in adapting to the situation.
After an initial few weeks of hiatus as the aviation finance industry responded to the sudden stoppage, HeliValue$ soon found their traditional customer base needing appraisal work done, and pivoted their offering to achieve this. Having previously sent an engineer onsite to perform a physical inspection of a helicopter, the work is now entirely remote – with the obvious savings to the customer (typically a bank, lessor, financier or insurer) not having to pick up the air fares or hotel expenses of going on site. The aim is still to verify the physical state and maintenance records and provide a valuation report, but the removal of the travel element means that the process is completed quicker than before.
Once HeliValue$ are instructed, they use one of their approved field inspectors – always someone well experienced in helicopter maintenance, and usually a licensed AMT, A&P, IA, or even DAR – to work remotely with a qualified maintenance engineer onsite, starting with a call to set the work scope. This will usually include requesting a range of specific still images from both the airframe (eg to demonstrate particular features are fitted, data plates, areas of concern or corrosion, or any other items that need to be addressed) and the records. A day or so later, there will be a longer session – usually via a phone or video call – when the appraiser will methodically work through all the aspects of the particular helicopter that need checking, directing the onsite engineer to show the relevant information. Appraisals are conducted at a pace which ensures that nothing gets missed, but it is still easy to go back and request information if needs be.
Very few disadvantages have been experienced to date with remote working. There can be instances where insufficient time is given by the engineer onsite to show a particular detail, and the office-located appraiser needs their field inspector to go back to ensure they have captured the correct information. Only one appraisal to date has required a third call, demonstrating that the pace of the calls is correct. Other challenges include the availability or quality of wifi or phone signal at the physical location of the helicopter. The very nature of an “anything anywhere” aircraft means that there may be no cell service at the helicopter, whether that be a remote location in Northern Canada, or just in the confines of a hangar structure which reduces the signal to an unusable level.
As more maintenance records are now held in online systems, the HeliValue$ appraiser will just be given access to the records for a particular airframe and that type of work is entirely desk based. For MROs that are not yet set up in this way, further time is needed to look at the maintenance records via a video call, still photos, or emailed reports.
It is still early days, but with two months experience, the signs are good. It is likely that some customers will still require onsite visits in the future, but working remotely is here to stay for the appraisers. All the appraisals completed so far by HeliValue$ have been “Asset Verifications”, rather than the more detailed “Purchase Buyer Inspections”. When the latter format is required, some adaption to the model may be required, but given the ease they have adapted so far, the company will just take this in their stride.
HeliValue$ has published The Official Helicopter Blue Book® continuously since 1979, and is widely regarded as the most experienced appraiser in the rotary wing industry. The company typically completes over 2,500 appraisals per year. www.helivalues.com
Jeremy Parkin – HeliHub.com
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