I wish that I was on the back side of my career, but unfortunately I am destined to be in this for awhile yet. What you have said about the operators and their low-balling to get the volume of work is what holds us all back. The operators that work on cashflow business models and especially those that work on a deficit cashflow model are the ones holding the industry in the dark ages. The only way they can make money is to pay less, take shortcuts on maintenance, reduce rotations (make shifts longer), fewer benefits, etc. They make their profit margin on what they don't pay or give their employees. We need operators that are in business to make money.
The customer is not without blame either. The largest customers with the bulk of the work greedily pit the operators against each other to get the cost of helicopters down to a level that increases their bonuses. Oil companies especially are making record profits yet hire helicopters in Canada at prices reflecting back at least 10 years. The cost of heli-portable seismic is ridiculous. The trickle down of the profit leaves the seismic companies to grind the helicopter companies to levels that I don't know how they expect companies to stay in business and supply the experience and expertise needed. Yet they demand the best machines and pilots for the lowest cost. That's how they make their money.
Forestry expects companies to ferry all over the country for free. They also want aircrew to have a certain level of experience before they can work. Training costs money.
Maybe a standard minimum rate for each type of helicopter needs to be implemented so at least maintenance standards aren't compromised.
If HAC does take over the H-AOC there has to be some representation from the front line; The pilots AND engineers!
The pilots and engineers are forced to make professional and operational decisions that are constrained by the lack of management support to do the job safely. Management's attitude is to get the job done as we need the work, if not we'll get someone to do it that won't complain. We get forced to do long tours with no rotations or very little time off. The crews would do better with representation in this process, which is looming large in all our futures. In Canada we have a hard working pool of very talented engineers and pilots. They all deserve to have some say in how operational environment develops. If left to the HAC(operators), say hello to what we have now and maybe worse. They will have their own interests at heart because they aren't out in the north country swatting at bugs and eating fire line food for 42 days at a time.
There I said my mind. We as pilots and engineers need a voice and if HEPAC is to be that voice, I'm in!