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State Of The Canadian Industry - Your View ?

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Nothing wrong with old airframes as long as the maintenance is done properly and regularly. Those things can go on for ever if we do our jobs!!!!! As far as costs, that's debateable. Some a/c seem to always break down regardless of their age, others seem to keep on trucking with no hickups. Age as nothing whatsoever to do with it!!!

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Helicopter pilots do not receive sufficient training to enable to adequately meet commercial requirements. Their longline training is insufficient, assuming they recieve any at all. The same observation applies to mountain flying. Some provincial forest services reject some helicopter pilots as inadequate inspite of the fact that TC has certified them as pilots. It is almost criminal that starry-eyed young men and women pay huge sums to train and then are unable to find work. The government should pay off the training debts incurred by these individuals and replace them with low interest student loans and also give them grants sufficient to allow them to train with longlines and in the mountains.


Forty-two consecutive fourteen hour duty days is too much. It flies in the face of all other Canadian labour legislation. Human beings need lives and with these sorts of rules they do not have them. The legislation does nothing to ameliorate fatigue in air crew and in fact promotes fatigue. These regulations need to be changed. Fourteen twelve hour duty days is about right. The regulations in both Australia and the United Kingdom are markedly different from those in Canada. The joke is that TC claims that the regulations in other jurisdictions were studied when the duty time rules were composed. They didn’t look any further that the USA. Canadian duty time regs are almost identical to theirs.


Helicopter pilots need an association. TC formed the Canadian Aviation Executives Safety Network. Where is the Engineers and Pilots Safety Network?


TC is going ahead with Safety Management Systems. It is going to mean a ton of paperwork for operators who obviously have difficulty coping with what they have now. They claim SMS is proactive, in spite of the fact that SMS is supposed to deal with safety issues AFTER they happen, then everyone sits around and talks about what they should do about it.


Pilots are occasionally intimidated into flying overloaded, in bad weather, and when they are tired. There needs to be some mechanism through which pilots can protest this sort of thing. An association would help, as it would help with every other issue raised here.


Tarriffs need to be reinstated to ensure that operators charge sufficiently for their machines. It is the way things used to be. Lowballing is a dangerous practice. The flying public deserves to be protected from it.

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All pilots get pressure to fly in certain conditions or loads, but it is their professionalism, which states in right on their license that should keep them out of those conditions. If they do decide to fly, I guess they should have that license revoked. Using policies and regulations is a pretty weak way of trying to get out of doing a job. I always found "NO" to always work well for me. As far as the duty times, I already don't like someone telling me how much money I can make in a period, I find the duty times quite acceptable, and again that professional pilot should know when he/she is tired and when safety is being compromised.

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Should everybody start with a longline -Logging - waterbucketing - bird towing -twin engine IFR rating and 5000 hours?

We all had to start someplace!

What we all needed was the ability to say NO!

Good instructors gave us that. OR NOT!

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The Canadian industry is a far healthier place to exist than those of other commonwealth countries. Jobs are plentiful, wages are paid on time and generally conditions are fair.


However, I agree that our industry needs some external regulation or unionism. A couple of high flying companies have a surplus of pilots with exceptional ability and experience flying for embarrassingly low wages in comparison to some of the market. There are also inequalities in aircraft outfitting, uniform and benefits packages and time off.


A few observations...




A 4000hr pilot with 8yrs of BC mountainous experience is only worth 3K a month and $40 an hour to a BC operator.

A similar 4000hr pilot with 8yrs of Alberta Oil Patch (flatter than the pacific...) is worth 4K a month and $60hr to an Alberta operator. Which incidentally, is one of the only non-unionised and poorly paid workers in the AB and BC oil patch.


Considering it is a MULTI BILLION DOLLAR industry...why are operators cutting each others throat? Who are we giving the favours too and why?

Time for an "opec type" consortium of operator tariff agreements. Let the good people with the good pilots and operation earn the work. Dreams are free...


Uniform and Benefits:


One operator gives out Nomex, another nothing at all. You trash your own clothing at your own expense and none of it is tax deductible. You are also often in violation of oil and gas regulation if you are wearing your denims around a gas plant. You are also inadequately prepared for fire and other operational risks.

One operator will provide a cellphone for you on the company ticket. Use it with respect and no trouble will come your way. That saves you a shitload of personal cost a month.

One operator will have great GPS's fitted to the aircraft, pre-programmed and consistent in manufacturer and operation. Another will look to you to shell out $600 dollars to provide your own cause the million dollar aircraft's Gamin 50 doesn't work.

One operator will pay you for your training and PPC time, while the other will expect you to front on your day off, pay you only your monthly and remove your 'away from home' allowance? Since when is being away on training not 'away from home?'


Time off:


I think our income does not reflect our day to day risk nor as mentioned earlier the realities of 42 days of 12hrs+. The stress on our lives is manifest in various ways and none more prevalent than relationships. Name one pilot with a happy wife or lady waiting at home for the 2 weeks off in 4-6. Think of how many pilots have been divorced.


Money won't solve everything. A lot of those BC operators paying less than 5% of the aircraft tariff in pilot flight pay are great companies to work for. The upper management are excellent and good people. I think that's why they generate so much loyalty... but that is speculation. Good management = good moral.


I would welcome more insight into the industry from industrial psychologists and a closer look into what can be done to prevent pilot interpersonal relationship problems. Some provision of long-term planning to help deal with long tours and stress needs to be effected. It seems those on 2 on and 2 off, are on a better wicket.


Overseas you can tour PNG, month on month off. Often guys can force this to month on and 5 weeks off and still not have a huge drop in salary. CHC international tour 6 on 6 off. If you consider a tour from Kelowna to the Yukon (eg:) you are probably going further and more remote than Australia to PNG...


BUT... regardless of all this. CANADA is a fantastic and excellent place to work. I firmly believe the worlds most balanced and talented helicopter pilots are created in this land. Pleased to be working with you all.....eh!

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If everyone would like to see an end to the way the current helicopter industry is going in Canada (lots of jobs, lots of flying), then I suggest all the pilots and engineers unionize. Canada's free enterprise and democratic system is why we can have different benefits by different companies. Hard work, done wisely, gets rewarded. The alternative would sound something like communism-equality for all, no matter how hard you work.

Sissypus, would you send someone who just finished training in how to operate a boat, to navigate a 300' freighter up the St. Lawrence and dock it? Just because somebody wants to do something in their career, doesn't mean they should do it before they are ready. This is why we do not give someone mountain training and longline instruction and send them to 8,000' to set ski towers with a 214. More training helps but it is not the complete solution. Experience is not gained by having someone sitting beside you to tell you how to make your decision.

The Canadian helicopter industry has a lot of people trying to get in, a few trying to get out and a lot of exceptional ones currently working in it. Most people complaining about it are trying to get in and usually they were brought into it by a school that promised lots of jobs were you are rewarded with glory, money and a great lifestyle. The schools often neglect to mention the tent camps on the arctic ice, the Atco trailer door slamming in the middle of the night when the rig pigs get home from their beer run at 2:30 a.m. and the town you're going to live in doesn't have paved roads.

Personally I believe Canada's helicopter industry is doing very well and other than some jippo operators who should raise their rates, we have one of the best systems when compared to other nations. We should all feel fortunate to be here when compared to some coutries in Europe where, you cannot land other than designated spots, or a longline more than 5 meters is illegal, or worse, there are no customers to fly.

Gimme Canada anyday eh.

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I must say as a student pilot here in Canada that this topic should be distributed to anyone interested in starting their helicopter training. I know for me personally many of the issues you mention don't seem large to me right now (I'm going to be 18 in a month...what do I care about moving across the country or working long hours for little pay or a wife?). WTF you have mentioned a lot of stuff that I've never heard from a flight school (although I have heard it through speaking with other pilots) and it is something that should be. I think a lot of the low timers didn't realize this going in as I have found out. That said if I may, I have a question regarding the industry and its low timers. What, in your opinions, are the chances for low timers getting a job improving or not and why?

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