Here we are, getting ready for Heli-Expo 2015 in Orlando, and Helicopter Maintenancemagazine (HMM) is in its fifth year of publication. That we have become the world’s number one helicopter maintenance magazine in such a short time is most gratifying. This is due in large part to you, our contributing authors, readers and advertisers. HMMstaff thanks all of you and our Advisory Board for helping us bring you, the helicopter maintenance professional, information you want and enjoy reading.
Although I have no specific numbers on just how many helicopter maintenance professionals there are worldwide, the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics places their latest estimate for the U.S. aviation industry from 2012 to 2022 at around 139,000. We can guesstimate at a minimum that the U.S. helicopter industry might account for 20 percent of that number (or around 28,000 people). On a global scale, it can only be significantly more.
Although we mostly come and go to work by ourselves, once there we become more than just ourselves; we are part of a team, part of a company. We are a family. Yes, we have family scattered all over, and like all families some members we like more than others, but in the type of work we do and the aircraft we work on, we are not alone. We are connected.
We can share our experiences, our failures and successes and — believe it or not — many of those same failures and successes are shared by others just like us. I remember someone telling me once that, “You are never too old to try something stupid.” Someone else replied, “It’s not stupid if it works.” In today’s global economy it should not come as a surprise that in what we do as helicopter maintenance professionals, we are all more alike than different.
We have hard task masters. As wonderful as helicopters are, they can be finicky even at the best of times. There are so many moving parts on a helicopter that it is difficult to keep track of them all. Someone needs to conduct the orchestra to keep it synchronized, and the helicopter maintenance professional is like the conductor for the helicopter, making sure every part is doing its thing correctly and in sync with all the other parts. I would like to think that we do not have jobs, but professions (as the word “professional” implies).
We have all been asked, “Why do you work in an industry with so little recognition and so much responsibility?” The answer for me is easy due to my love of aviation. As Winston Churchill once said, “Democracy, it is absolutely the worst system out there, except for all the others.” I hope that you feel that same way about what we do. As we continue in our professions, I hope that all of us can work as if we do not need the money. Love as if we have never been hurt, and dance as if no one is looking. We do what we do because we truly enjoy doing it.
In a recent Global Helicopter Mechanic Shortage Survey, we received more than 1,600 responses from 64 countries. (See the article in our October/November 2014 issue). The respondents were either already helicopter mechanics or thinking about becoming one. Like I said, we are not alone in what we do.
Our readers cover the spectrum of years as helicopter maintenance professionals and experiences. We have the “newbie” with their brand new A&P/AME license and less than two years experience, through the seasoned professional with more than 30 years on the job, IA qualified and have just about seen it all. The changes in our industry over the past several decades have been profound and I am sure that will continue over the next several decades. The only consistency over time is change. Are we as an industry and as helicopter maintenance professionals up to the challenge? As helicopters become more sophisticated and what used to be simple systems become more complex due to integration with other systems, what we do and how we do it will pose significant changes in how we maintain the helicopter.
In closing, I sincerely hope that you will continue to enjoy reading HMM, and that you will share your views with us with your feedback. I would guess that many of you have special items stuck to your refrigerator with magnets or tape. I hope that over time, we have and will continue to provide you with articles that you will deem “fridgeworthy” and that you will want to put them there, too.
If you will be at Heli-Expo 2015 in Orlando, please come by our booth and say hi. We would enjoy talking with you.