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Helicopter industry offers career fair to attract more to the field

Arizona Republic 03/13/2009

Author: Luci Scott



Even as the economy slows, the demand for helicopter services continues to expand. From Miami, Fla., to Safford, jobs are being advertised for helicopter pilots, flight nurses, mechanics and paramedics.


So, to help reduce the shortage of helicopter professionals, a career fair is being held from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday at Quantum Helicopters near Chandler Municipal Airport.



Dubbed Helicopter Day, the free event targets high-school and college students and their parents, as industry insiders aim to cultivate the next generation of workers in helicopter services. "We're bringing in a bunch of pilots, mechanics, engineers - different people employed in the helicopter industry," said Missy Palrang, chief flight instructor at Quantum.



Those workers will explain their jobs to visitors to highlight the variety of fields within the industry, she added.



There is a shortage of well-qualified pilots, maintenance technicians and engineers, and the industry is eager to train and hire, said Libby Meade of Virginia-based Helicopter Foundation International, the non-profit arm of the Helicopter Association International.



The organizations are co-sponsors of the fair.



The reason for the shortage is twofold.



Pilots and maintenance technicians from the Vietnam era are leaving the workforce, and regardless of the current economic slowdown, the helicopter market continues to grow.



"The helicopter pilots who flew in Vietnam are fast fading out," said Marty Pociask, spokesman for the association.



"The problem is that during all of this time, helicopter operations have continued to expand as people find new uses for them."



He couldn't quantify with numbers the shortage of pilots and mechanics, but he said that up to 800 helicopters fly in the Gulf of Mexico alone, ferrying workers to oil platforms. And it's an area that will increase with oil exploration.



Helicopters are used 24 hours a day in fighting fires, and in California alone, up to 80 fires could be burning at once, he said.



Hospitals, too, are continually building landing pads for helicopters to deliver patients in emergencies. For example: A search of airmethods.com, the Web site of air-ambulance operator Air Methods, showed 36 openings in the country for pilots, flight nurses, flight paramedics, mechanics and a communications specialist.



"People are using helicopters more in day-to-day activities, so there's higher need for flight crews," said Matt Zuccaro, president of the association.



Think aviation, and airplanes come to mind, but "there's a whole industry out there that employs thousands of people, and that's the civil helicopter industry," Meade said.



In Chandler, she will provide information about scholarships and show a film.



Helicopters ferry tourists, police officers, firefighters, nurses, medics, photographers, forest personnel, power- company and construction workers.



Salaries for pilots vary from $50,000 to $90,000 per year.



A pilot from Tempe-based SRP will be at the fair, along with a Bell 427, one of the utility's fleet of three helicopters.



Spokesman Jeff Lane said SRP uses helicopters for a variety of reasons. Helicopters routinely deliver construction and maintenance crews to SRP's six dams along the Salt and Verde rivers.



Dave Kurner, regional safety manager with the Federal Aviation Administration based near Los Angeles, will be at the fair with a few colleagues.



"We'll bring some materials with us and share those with students and talk about them," he said.



"Hopefully, we'll get them started on the right foot," Kurner added.



Visitors to the career fair won't get rides, but they can inspect various helicopters flown in for the event.



A videographer will film the fair to showcase on the foundation's Web site.



Students learning to fly helicopters can study full or part time.



"All training is one-on-one," Quantum Helicopters' Palrang said, adding that "each student sets his or her own schedule."



A full-time student can go six half-days a week and finish training in a year.



"Some people come in two or three times a week," Palrang said. "They go at their own pace, whatever is most comfortable for them."


Apache pilot shortfall threatens frontline

The Daily Telegraph (London) 03/13/2009

Author: Thomas Harding

Copyright © 2008 The Daily Telegraph; Source: World Reporter




A drastic shortfall in attack helicopter pilots is threatening to undermine the campaign in Afghanistan, new figures have shown. Despite a Ministry of Defence promise that the Apache fleet would be fully manned with 120 aircrew by this year it can be disclosed that only 68 are available.


Figures obtained in a Parliamentary Question by the Tories have also shown that there are shortages of pilots across the Army, Navy and RAF. The issue is becoming a serious concern for commanders as they seek to boost the lack of helicopters for the 8,300 British troops in Afghanistan. Soldiers are being increasingly subjected to the risk of roadside bombs because there is insufficient air lift.



Liam Fox, the shadow defence secretary, said: "At a time when helicopters are needed in Afghanistan the most, it is worrying to learn that helicopters crews are undermanned. It is even more distressing to learn that pilots are missing out on vital training so that they are able to be deployed effectively.



"This is yet more evidence of the overstretch and retention crisis that our Armed Forces are facing."



The Apache crews, which consist of a pilot and gunner, are already under huge pressure because of the shortage in replacements. The crews are doing two-month tours twice a year, flying under constant threat of enemy fire.



With 68 fully trained crews there are just enough to keep the eight Apaches in Helmand flying but any further drop would cause serious difficulties. As it is, the MoD has only been able to deploy just one extra Apache to Helmand to reinforce the mission that has almost tripled in size since the first eight helicopters went out in 2006.



The shortfall also undermines the commitment made by the MoD four years ago that by this year there would be 126 trained aircrew, which was already a reduction from 144 predicted to be trained by 2007.



Severe budgetary problems within the military, caused by chronic underfunding, have forced the Army Air Corps to slash the number of training hours for pilots. Similarly a lack of funding for servicing aircraft means that there are not enough flying hours for training.



"It is a major problem," said a defence source. "There are only so many flying hours in the fleet. They are really struggling to get the hours to fight the war and train up the air crews needed. There is little else they can do at the moment and I'm afraid these figures show that the chickens have come home to roost."



It is hoped that by the end of this year RAF Merlin helicopters will be sent to Afghanistan but it is almost a quarter short of pilots with only 116 out of a required strength of 151.



Evidence has also emerged that many helicopter pilots are not being trained long enough to satisfy NATO requirements with 30 per cent of Navy Merlin pilots not completing a minimum of 15 hours a month.



The Navy's Sea King fleet is also short of 19 of the required 113 pilots.



An MoD spokesperson said: “We have sufficient fully-trained air crews to sustain all our helicopter fleets in Theatre and the number of helicopter flying hours on operations has increased by 60 per cent over the past two years.”




Sikorsky head calls Bell combination "interesting"

Reuters News 03/12/2009

© Reuters Limited 2008.



NEW YORK, March 12 (Reuters) - The head of United Technologies Corp's (UTX.N) Sikorsky helicopter unit told an investor meeting on Thursday that a combination with Textron Inc's (TXT.N) Bell helicopter unit would be "an interesting hypothesis."


When asked about the possibility of such a deal, Jeffrey Pino, who serves as president of Sikorsky, said the mix of products between the two businesses could be appealing.



"It's an interesting hypothesis; why don't we just go with that? We study all competitors in terms of what would a consolidation look like," Pino said.

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AWESOME!!! if that's you in the pic ill try my best to look for ya when im there... if i ever make it up there... (got like 3 things to do tomorrow besides this) lol


is there gonna be anyone there from the military for Q/A? i.e., AZ Army National Guard would be perfect...

Edited by Yamer
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  • 2 weeks later...

I was out of state when this took place, and pretty upset about it too, in some ways. Oh well. I'll have to call Quantum and see if there were any materials or information left over. I could use the scholarship info, like everybody else, I'm sure. Doh! :P

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