Recent research commissioned by Helicopter Foundation International (HFI) and conducted by the University of North Dakota (UND) paints a stark picture for the future of the rotorcraft industry. It suggests that unless fundamental changes are implemented, the rotorcraft industry could face a significant shortfall in both pilots and mechanics. The implications of such a deficit has already begun to generate uncertainties among operators, with more than 50% suggesting that the shortage would interfere with business growth over the next five years.
Speaking about the potential skills shortage, Dennis Martin, Director of Sales and Marketing at Enstrom Helicopter Corporation, revealed that the feedback from its customer base offers conflicting reports. It highlights that it may not be a lack of pilots, but a lack of the necessary credentials required by today’s operators that may be the real problem. “For many of our customers, it not about a pilot shortage, but the skills required may be lacking or in some cases, pilots cannot provide the number of flight hours required by insurance companies.”
“The skills required of pilots has changed significantly over the past 10-15 years and continues to evolve to keep up with emerging technologies and ways of working. For example, a decade ago, pilots clocking more than 10,000 hours often would not have an instrument rating. Today, many employers will look for pilots with an instrument rating, resulting in many students gaining such qualifications during training so that they are fully equipped for the commercial opportunities that lie ahead. With this in mind, it’s important that as an industry we classify whether it is a lack of pilots, or a lack of skills, before addressing the steps that can be taken to rectify the problem.”
Enstrom Helicopter Corporation, which manufacturers high-quality and high-value helicopters for commercial and private markets, recently announced the sale of its 280FX into France to Golf Tango, a well-established, approved training organisation operating at Toussus le Noble airport. The contract, signed at Helitech International 2018, will help Golf Tango expand its helicopter training to ensure the current and next generation of pilots are equipped with the skills training to fulfil today’s operator requirements.
Speaking about the contract, Martin added: “Helitech International provided us with a fantastic opportunity to engage with European operators about their training requirements. Our 280FX and F28F are used worldwide for training and we’re excited to continue our partnership with Rotor & Aircraft Sari who has been working hard to add to the Enstrom French fleet. The 280FX is the perfect aircraft for flight training, as it is not only delivers on safety, but is especially rugged enough to handle the trials of a training helicopter.”
Martin stressed that the 280FX is perfect for training operations as it offers similarities to the aircraft that once fully trained, pilots will move on to fly. “It is important that training programmes offer pilots the experience that will provide them with the information and handling capabilities needed for real-life operations. In addition, the 280FX offers a low cost of ownership and holds up well in the training environment.”
By improving the quality of training, increasing student confidence and retention, operators can address the skills shortage and ensure that the pilots, with the right skills, are available for the next era of rotorcraft operations.
For more information on Enstrom’s product offering, please visit http://enstromhelicopter.com.