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Rotor & Wing Safety Summit 2010 Denver Colorado

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This past week Rotor & Wing had their yearly Safety Summit here in Denver and of course Heli-Ops was there. I have to say right off the bat that it was disappointing that only one other local school was represented and with only one person from that school (I guess I should say ‘it was nice to see one other school represented as well’, but with six in the area we expected to see more). It was awesome how many really amazing people were there and their focus was to be a part of making our industry better.. I’m not totally sure, but I think that the speakers were not paid, but came on their own to participate in educating the rest about their efforts focused on safety….


It was also amazing how many people know and love Goldy… I have met a lot of people over the past three years, and it seems that they all know or have flown with this guy.. I am honored to be his friend as are so many others…


I won’t have time to cover everything and thus will leave some speakers out, I apologize now for that as all that I did see were awesome and informative. I had to leave early one day to meet a friend at KAPA so I missed that one afternoon session as well..


It was very nice for us to show up having one of our Ships, a CFI and student, on the front cover of the current issue of R & W…. and I want to thank the Editor Joy for making all of that happen and Vicki for taking the time to visit us and sit thru the Michael Franz’s Safety Seminar at Heli-Ops last month.. you will notice that she really got a lot out of it and talked more about that then she did the schools!! ☺ You can read the article at the link below: scroll down to the magazine cover..




The Seminar opened at 6:30am with a session on Helicopter performance based navigation. The speakers were Chris Baur, & Grady Boyce from Hughes Aerospace Corp, and Tom Salat from the FAA. They were very informative and spoke about the many components of PBN such as RNAV, RNAV/RNP, differential GPS such as WAAS, LPV and GBAS. It was great to get insight of what the future will bring..


Then at 8:30 the Keynote Speaker, Randy Babbitt, Administrator of the FAA spoke to us about how the FAA is focusing on Safety and some of their missions in this area.


At 9am there was a session on ab-inito training. The moderator was Christian Gadbois, owner of SRT (and a forum member), panel members were; Ernie Anderson from NDU, Cass Howell from Embry Riddle, Gordon Jiroux president of Universal Helicopter & me. I have to tell you that I was a little bit intimidated sitting on a panel with these gents, but they were very gentle with me and it turned out fine. ☺ I was asked to participate just a couple of days before the Summit so I didn’t get to cover as much as I would have liked to tho.. I am sure that the industry as a whole will benefit greatly from ab-inito programs in the near future… The best part for me was getting to know these guys, they have a ton of collective knowledge and were very gracious to the new guy on the block..


I would have liked to see more students involved, we had about six of our team/students show up, it’s true that the Summit was focused on operators, but hopefully our students and CFIs will be on that level one day, and they got to see another part of their futures. The Publisher and I talked about that and they plan some sort of a student program for next year…


The next session was Human Factors in Helicopter Operations. The Moderator was Chris Baur from Hughes; Speakers were Jerry Allen from Baines Simmons Americas, Immanuel Barshi from NASA, and Tim Rolfe from Bristow. This was a very interesting session for me and it was great to see folks with real world knowledge on the subjects. The best part for me was that they actually gave us solutions to some of the issues we all see. Also, as in all of the sessions I sat in on, the question part at the end was very informative, as there were so many folks in the audience that had experience to add, I think that part of the sessions could have gone on for hours….



Next was IFR for the VFR pilot.. Moderator Mark Mestre Aviation Safety Manager for the US Army. Speakers, Fred Brisbois Sikorsky Aircraft, Randy Sharp from CALSTAR, and Scott Tish from Air Methods.. This session was also very interesting to us since we fly in constantly changing weather, especially up in the mountains, and is an issue that takes lives on a regular basis. A side note here; this is also one of the subjects that Mike brought up at his seminar, AND our mountain course instructor Micah insists on as well; Every school should teach emergency procedures for inadvertent flight into IMC, not just talk about it in theory or across the table in a ground session… Every school should have plan of action for what to do in YOUR area should something like this happen.. this is a subject that wasn’t even brought up at the school I trained at.. Now we are incorporating a POA into our training program with the use or SIMs.



Adding to your fleet was next and unfortunately I missed that one.. I know, you’re going to say of all people I should have been in that one.. ☺ The moderator was Todd Vorenkamp from the Coast Guard, Speakers were Lee Benson from the LA County Fire Dept, and Sharon Desfor from HeliValues. I would have really liked to have sat in on this session, not for us, but for all of the people that call me and say ‘dp, I wanna buy a helicopter, which one do you suggest’!! Mostly I just say ‘no you don’t’ !!! It is hard to pick the right platform for individual owners; of course we all want MD500s, but most have to be reasonable and think about the application…


The second day was the best for me.. some of the sessions related more to training and our little end of the industry (and I didn’t have to get up in front of over 100 people and speak)..


The first session on IHST & JHSIT initiatives was great (8am), the speakers were Sue Gardner from the FAA and Fred Brisbois from Sikorsky.. and they talked about the analysis results and their recommendations and focus to reduce the helicopter accident rate by 80% by 2016.. I have to say, that it was very nice to see how many people from the FAA were there and participated. I counted at least eight of the local folks that I knew of, and they sat in on every session. There were even others from Washington that were there and their input was some of the best of the Summit.. I’ll talk about that more in the NVG section.


The next session was another of my favorites.. In the Cockpit: Technology Updates for Helicopters. The Moderator was Steve Colby, combat rescue weapons instructor pilot US Air Force and Defense contractor.. (this guy was one of the most interesting folks there and is working on some stuff that will change the industry.. amazing stuff.. and his knowledge and input was top notch.. I could have talked with him for days). Speakers; BJ Raysor, Director of Aviation Ops Arkansas Children’s Hospital and Dennis Small, Eramed Pilot from Lifeflight of Maine. Steve’s input here was great and then BJ covered a system that his program uses on every flight, it was developed by APPAREO systems and records flight data as well as video.


Link here: http://www.appareo.com/


BJ’s program uses the recorder on all flights and uses it in debrief as a teaching tool. We do something similar with a four-camera system that one of our pilots developed and it’s one of the best training tools I have ever seen. Below is a link to the system when we were testing it in the beginning, i’ll try to get some more vids up of the new cameras and set-up focusing clearer on the instrument panel and flight controls so the pilots can look at every aspect of their flight in debrief. (I know some of you CFIs cringe when you think of all of your flights being recorded.. but this the kind of stuff it takes to be the best.. we can all learn from every flight.. and it provides the best training for the student..)



Dennis Small’s power point and lecture was about operating in a vast region with 2000 islands, high winds and almost no landing sites (Maine).. it was very interesting to learn about the East Coast as I have no experience there..



The next session was How to be an effective Safety Officer and also had some high power folks on the team. The moderator was Keith Cianfraini, a safety consultant and retired Lt. Colonel in the Army. Speakers were Dan Deutermann from The Squadron Inc, Michael Koenes from Air Methods and Matt Wallace from Air Life Georgia. This was a really good session that I could relate to as my role at times is one of Safety Officer.. and it can be a tough spot. They all had many good ideas on how to make this tough job easier and more efficient… Dan is working on a program focusing on Safety that he plans on offering to seminars much like Mike Franz’s… His experience in the industry is far reaching and we hope to have him at our next program at Heli-Ops.



The next Session was my all time favorite of the show, it was only one hour long but the information we got was like drinking from a fire hose.. this guy was amazing and he totally knows his stuff. I hope to have him give the same lecture at our airport for everyone that can come.. Last month at the Regional Helicopter Safety Meeting in Denver I brought up this very subject and it was gratifying to see such an industry icon saying the same things and giving us advice on how to accomplish our goals. The session was called; Protecting Yourself in an Accident Investigation. Keith made the introduction and the speaker was Greg Feith, he retired from 22 years at the NTSB and is now an International Aviation Safety consultant.. Greg talked about the FAA and NTSB’s roles in accident investigation, which was invaluable information, but my favorite part was his overview of an Emergency Response Plan for operations and how important they could be. Rotor & Wing recorded this session and others and will have them on their website soon.. I highly recommend you all watch this guys session as it covered so much. I will also keep you informed on the progress of having him speak at KBJC.. The first comment I made after his lecture was ‘what ever they paid you to come and speak wasn’t enough’ … then I found out he volunteered his time.. unreal!!! Here’s a link:




There was a great lunch and time to visit with the many amazing folks that were there..


The next session was on NVG and was also very interesting to us as we are working on a program to teach NVG at Heli-Ops. The Speaker was Casey Howelett from Aero Dynamix, and the guy sure knows his stuff. Aero Dynamix installs lighting in helicopters for NVG ops and sells goggles and other related stuff as well. Casey had a great power point presentation and taught us tons. Another great part of this session was after Casey’s lecture when the audience participated in the question and answer portion. There were folks that had thousands of hours NVG time AND the FAA rep from Washington that is writing the regs.. it was an awesome session, extremely informative and interesting, to have all of these folks in one place at the same time was invaluable.



The last but not least session was RotorWatch-Advanced alerting capabilities for helicopter operators. The speakers were Jim Block, Chief Meterologist Telvent, and Dr. Jan Dutton VP of Business Development Telvent. This session was about a program that blends GIS technology and geo-referenced weather information to give operators current relative data on each individual aircraft as well as it’s location… This stuff is so far ahead of it’s time it’s amazing and it’s being used world wide to give operators the information they need to make safer decisions about their flights…



All-in-all it was a great Summit.. there were lots of folks there with exhibits and products which was cool. The best part for me tho were the contacts and all of the great information (I just counted, I have 46 business cards from people I met and talked with).


One of the subjects that almost everyone talked about was the importance of simulators in our future.. Flight Safety and FRASCA were there and we all talked about the subject extensively.. if you and yours are not using your sims to the fullest you need to revisit this as they can be invaluable.


Ab-inito came up a lot as well, but I don’t think the helicopter industry has a full understanding of what this could do for our future.. most are just looking at what it could do for their niche.. I am telling you that it could solve issues industry wide in so many ways.. a subject I will be talking about more as time goes on…


I really want to thank Randy Jones (Publisher) and Joy Finnegan (Editor) and all of the team at Rotor & Wing for putting this together.. it was a great time and they truly are ‘part of the solution’.




Here’s a link to some photos.. sorry they aren’t better, I was focused on the seminar and forgot to take more:



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You're welcome Chris..


in retrospect i was thinking about my comment where i said that the four camera system we use for training was 'similar' to the Appareo system.. that's not completely accurate.. the Appareo system is amazing and tracks a lot of information, and you can download it to software that shows your flight graphically.. it's really incredible and has a built in GPS unit (something our next gen camera system will have) that allows you to show your flight path as well... really cool stuff.. i didn't mean to down play the system at all... just saying that we see the benefit.. and if we could afford the Appareo system we'd have them in every ship we operate! (UND uses them in their training aircraft).



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You are correct Dp, we do have the Appareo system in almost all our helicopters (not in the new ones we've gotten in the last couple months). It is an extremely valuable system and the ability to put your whole flight into a 3D map/world that you can view from every angle possible makes it an amazing tool for training. It also leads to some very interesting drawing contests among instructors.. but you didn't hear that from me. lol.


The four camera idea sounds like a very good system as well, since then you could also point out exact things that happened or things to look for.


On a totally unrelated topic...

Gonna be back home in Denver this weekend looking at stopping in and saying "hi" Probably Tuesday, hope you'll be around.

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