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Aviation Professionalism

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Excellent POST and you are wondering why HEPAC was founded. Everything you stated was covered at one time or another in HEPAC dialog.



Thanks Don,


I know HEPAC tried to get movement on many of these issues, but for a variety of reasons failed to do that. I don't personally think that HEPAC was going to have success, but NOT because of what its stated goals were, but because of the attitude and social make-up of the industry/country these days. It was always going to be an un-winnable and uphill battle.


Worker representation has become a dirty concept thanks to the many, many union debacles we continue to witness year in and year out and the opposing easy propaganda that accompanies them, not to mention seven or eight years of prosperity to erase long memories - that does NOT make it unnecessary or fatally flawed in design, it just needs to evolve like anything else.


The repercussions of this negative attitude toward representation are however, far reaching within our industry. The Owners have the power and they know it, (a bit like BCFS these days, no?) the workers (outside a few small examples like CHC or the Ornge folks) are in no position to negotiate en-mass for wages, benefits, safety concerns, or anything else for that matter. I have worked at numerous companies where staff adamantly refuse to discuss wages or their "deal" openly for fear of... well something? Hence, we are picked off one at a time, and that's just in terms of remuneration, safety is another issue entirely.


I have recently heard owners putting out machines at appallingly low rates - name the machine, it doesn't matter, big or small - with one asking the pilot to take a ridiculous pay cut because the machine "had to be given away to get the work." Really? "Had to?" Standards of ethics have become optional, and most owners opt out, by choice or by need. We have all waited for, and openly talked about this potential "cull" of companies over the past two years of economic woes - we have really yet to see it.


Wage, schedule, safety, and maintenance gains made in the last decade disappeared over night in late 2008, and some of the guys I've met are flying this summer on truly pathetic terms of employment, in machines that haven't been looked at since last fall, and their stress levels are insane. We all know who most of these operators are, are surprised by others that look good on the outside, but yet we continue to walk through the doors seeking employment. They win every time.


Professionalism? No, true professionalism starts from the top and filters down - it is a dead concept in Canadian aviation. Call me a cynic, or just fed-up...! ;-)





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I agree with all your saying auto, but the fact of the matter is if you dump a couple mill into something and there is nothing coming in other than calls from your creditors you sometimes (Have to) do what it takes and that starts at the bottom.


I guess the best thing is to go through it to understand it. All the best.

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These are all good posts, especially AR, I don't recall you responding to a subject so eloquently and to the point. Right ON.


IMHO the biggest mistake TC made was including helicopters with fixed wing, BIG MISTAKE.


Civil Aviation is not like DND with all services waring the same hat, BUT, if you go back in history and check the background of most decision makers in TC, you will find a military background.


They last at the most 4-5 years and then retire again. Continuety at its best. As each new DGTCCA comes into the job, he always has to make changes so he can leave his mark, or screw-up.


Since we had to follow the FAA into de-regulation, where there was no requirement to do so, it totally screwed up the industry in Canada. Now, everybody thought they could operate those funny rotating machines and make money.


You name it, everybody got into the leasing business. Get an OC, lease a machine or two, set your tarrif below everybody elses in your area and wait to declare banckruptcy.


The leasing companies are owned by investors that mainly use them for write-offs or launder money.


Proir to de-regulation any company applying for an OC had to have a personal investment in each helicopter, NO LEASING.


IMHO the helicopter industry should not be part of the "AIR TAXI" group, but an entity on it's own and regulated accordingly.


There are to many helicopters in Canada which gives the customer the oportunity to play "Shot Gun Poker".


A new TARRIF and Regulations Manual should be established in conjunction with TCCA, enforced and automatically becomes in force in any contract over 6 (six) days, daily minimums should be establisehd and averaged from 7 (seven) days onward to a maximum hours of the contract.


HAC would have an oportunity to make sure that ALL operators abide by the new TARRIF and Regulations Manual or be suspended from operating.


As for the SMS system, have it enforced by the OWNERS (held responsible) of the companies, regulated and enforced on a regular basis (with out prior notice) by TCCA.


Cheers, Don



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Koalaa119 you are soooo on the mark with your comments. Professionalism is a rare attribute possessed by few pilots, particuliary in the rotor wing industry......and that can generally be placed squarely on the shoulders of the operators who talk the talk but never, with rare exception, walk the walk.


They don't train you as a professional and they won't pay you as a professional. They have little respect for the individual as a person and think of them the same way they consider the expense of a 100 hr inspection....unavoidable....and if they could get by without it 80% of them would.


Most of them hold their pilots in total contempt.....and that is true from the BC fishing lodge operator to the Ontario tour operator.


I had one operator ask me, after I discovered a crack in a 206 blade grip, who bad was it and could I move the machine from the bush camp to an airport....WHAT ????

And then there was the phone conversation (short) I had with another operator, made after spending 3 days in the bush with 2 clients and the object of a large SAR event, the first words out of his mouth was ".....how is the machine?" I took that kinda personal.


How can you expect an individual to conduct himself as a professional, and I'm talking about someone who has all the qualification and training to be considered a professional, ATPL, IFR etc. etc. ( and I'm not talking about police, corporate or instructors) who on a daily basis has peoples lives in his hands, when they receive no respect or support from their company either in pay or conditions.


Look at the pay scale paid by a well known Vancouver based operator to their S76 FO's.

It's insulting and if that operator could pay less he would....and they're not alone.


In my 30+ years around this industry I have seen numerous good professional calibre people leave rotor wing flying because it is such an unregulated business run by cowboys and full of contradictions.


I have flown in Australia, Africa and UK and find that Canadian , non-airline "bush" pilots, in particuliar helicopter pilots, are the most unprofessional bunch (just read the replies to this post for proof) who have no idea what the word professionalism even means.


But then, being treated like a piece of crap most of your "career" will do that to you and all the good intentioned articles in the Aviation Safety Letter written by correspondents who have never been in the bush long enough to know the truth, aren't going to change that.

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Many good points, an interesting and eye-opening discussion! Here's my 2-bits:


It's a sad fact that many pilots start out on a wide-eyed, youthful quest for "The Dream". Too many become cynical and jaded when that dream turns out to include mud, mosquitos, a**holes, and way to much time away from home. As my friend commented upon meeting one such, "Where did he lose his 'Give a dam*?'"


While greedy and/or unscrupulous operators may be causative agents, it's up to each of us to maintain our integrity and enthusiasm, which, I would argue, are two hallmarks of professionalism. Here in Canada, where we have so much, we are each of us responsible for our own happiness!


Aviation is my third career: I started flying in my 40s. If I could change careers, so can you! Don't be trapped in an unhappy (aviation) career by "golden handcuffs"!! You, your family, your employer, and your customers deserve a father, husband, employee, and pilot who "Gives a dam*".


Take care and have fun,


Dick Mitten


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  • 3 weeks later...

An excellent response dimit. I feel all of us in the the industry could improve on our professionalism. If we don't work for an employer who encourages that, than perhaps we should dig a little inside ourselves. Maybe professionalism is an individual's responsibility rather than waiting for it to come from management/ tca etc. Having said that, I am very happy to be working for a company with lots of professionals and class acts in the management.




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It is my belief that professionalism is the responsibility of the individual. A very sad comment about moral decay. It is a challenging task to teach professionalism to the individual when our moral compasses increasingly only point towards "ME". Professionalism in all facets of our culture, aviation or otherwise, is truly tasked by the moral decay described in Tony Kerns article.

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Professionalism is a rare attribute possessed by few pilots, particuliary in the rotor wing industry......and that can generally be placed squarely on the shoulders of the operators who talk the talk but never, with rare exception, walk the walk.


They don't train you as a professional and they won't pay you as a professional. They have little respect for the individual as a person and think of them the same way they consider the expense of a 100 hr inspection....unavoidable....and if they could get by without it 80% of them would.




Yeah, just as I thought. It's someone's else's fault... :down:





No one else can make you what you're not.

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