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Enough Of Unions!

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I gave this much thought, as I didn’t want to wade back into this issue, given my previous experience. I am no longer directly involved in helicopters but still feel strongly about the value of this issue. Keep asking the question, but you need to ask it correctly. Helicopter types are wary, as self preservation dictates.


You are all familiar with turning a sows ear into a silk purse, and most of the time you get away with it, but is it professional? The industry seems to be trying to say “no”, but there are still too many who think flying skill is directly proportional to the size of their nads. This mentality should be the primary focus of an Association. Who in their right mind would not want to belong to an organization of professionals who have pride and celebrate in what they do. What owner would not want to hire a pilot that has become involved in a professional Association? Some of you people are probably going to do some unheralded flying this year fighting the fires that are sure to happen, at least here in the West given the lack of moisture. Give yourselves permission to publicly say “we are Canadian helicopter pilot’s, and we are some of the best in the world”. Dripping with cheese, but true!


Nobody likes change, but the kind of change a few are talking about is exactly what the helicopter industry needs. A lot of guys on here don’t want to rock the boat because for them, the honeymoon is on again. So it’s too easy to say “If you don’t like it, change jobs". "Get the **** out” That’s the real message. Status-quo. I hate that word.


I just want to share some of the things I learned from my involvement in the last go-around. HEPAC generated most of the attention, and a lot of derision all at the same time. I had a plan as well, but it was much simpler. No slight meant towards those behind HEPAC.


Baby steps. This process will take years. To start an Association is easy. 5 people and away you go, well, it’s a little more detailed, but not rocket science. The real trick is reaching the masses. I’ve said it before, this site is only a small part of the industry. I know a lot of influential people who don’t even know about the earth shattering debates you all think the industry watches here. No offense to those who host this site, but the word needs to go far beyond this forum. Addresses are gold. Send somebody a well thought out piece of information and give them time to think about it. The ball will get rolling eventually


It’s not about money. Any Association should not sit across the table from operators and say we want....An Association should be on the same side of the table as the operators, and together address the issues. Don't go to your boss with a problem, unless you have a solution. The operators are not the enemy, they provide you with the “crack” fix that got you in trouble in the first place. They are businessmen, and they don’t owe you a living just because you’re a pilot. Conversely nobody owes an operator, who embarks on an ill informed decision thinking he/she can break into an already saturated market. They are taking the risk, and that must be respected. There are some real fine operators out there that should be endorsed by such an Association. The money will come when the owners in concert with an Association come up with creative and transparent (i.e: legal) ways to raise tariffs. That’s the crux. It’s a simplistic scenario, but only an example. There are many reasons why people own and operate helicopters, some noble, some just to write down the tax bill, but with high tariffs, the wheat will be separated from the chaff. In time attitudes and expectations will change.


Forget about trying to associate the whole bloody thing in one shot. Get a bunch of pilot’s together and run with that. Even the most junior pilot is vaguely aware of what the pilot issues are. Not true about engineering matters. Stick with what you know. Down the road common ground should be found, and then roll it into one. It’s going to take some of you to actually get off your *** though. Don’t any of you guys/gals want to be the ones responsible for starting such a positive venture. The potential is there.


The energy spent here debating the ostriches would be better used on the following:


1. Contact some credit unions about joining as an Association of pilots. There is interest from growing credit unions who would love to have the resources of professional pilots in bank accounts, loans, mortgages, RRSPs, life insurance, the list goes on. I’ve talked to one in particular, and they were very interested. Use this as your starting point. Hey nothing to worry about here, just a bunch of pilots’ pooling our cash. The real benefits of course should be obvious to even the most ignorant.


2. Maybe some of you have already talked to Mike about an Association. He is a wealth of knowledge about this industry, and just happens to have access to what is becoming the premier publication in the helicopter industry. Use your imagination. One of you with big enough brass might even volunteer to pen an article about this. Why should this concept even be considered a threat anyway? I could never figure that part out.


3. Some of the more literate should sit down and compose a well thought out piece about the effects an Association might have on safety practises in the helicopter industry, and then send it in to the new safety publication provided by TC. It will require some research, but could be very effective at revealing some of the possible long term benefits. There is an emerging safety philosophy that is going to affect all operators, and it might be beneficial to have an Association get it’s sea legs now to see if it might make itself valuable to the process.


Good luck to those of you who see the benefits. You will be vindicated one day when everybody see’s just how valuable an Association is to the industry.

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Maxtorc -----all understood and I believe that a union or association could address and help and work WITH the owners to effect a multitude of changes regarding safety, etc. That's the way it should work.......in partnership and not automatic confrontation. Having said that, the subject of wages is always lurking in the background and it would have it's moment also to be addressed also. Now we reach my particular point.........you can't solve that problem with the good, reliable operators when they are being "cut-off at the knees" by other operators giving "lost leaders" away" all the time. In SOME cases with some operators, their whole fleet appears to be a "lost leader". I have no problem at all with "free enterprise" and sharpening the old pencil to get a contract, but not when 212's go out the door for $1475/hr.....for 85 hours for example. I mentioned before some place here that in October 1968 a Jetranger sold for about $265,000 and went out the door for $265/hr. ....and I was making $17,000/yr. If you carry those figures forward to today, that Jetranger should be getting about $1,230/hr (last price I saw out of Mirebel for a new Jetranger was $1.23M) and every pilot with any experience flying them should be over $100,000/yr then. I'm comforted only by the fact that EXACTLY the same thing is taking place on the F/W side, so we are not alone by any means. I know of FO's with a fair amount of experience on the F/W side who are still dreaming of the day they break $35,000/yr and you should see whatb they are flying.......and it ain't any Norseman or Beaver on floats either. It's an industry-wide disease and checking worldwide on what even an R-44 commands makes us look like a joke.

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Very nice bubbleboy, that all sounds very good and it is a direction. Any takers out there?


Cap, I do understand and I am compasionate to these facts. If it is any help, I refuse to work for anybody that throws their equipment out the door for an unreasonable price, somewhat on principal but moreso because they are going to throw me in with the underpriced package.


I was never subsidized through my carreer, if there wasn't any money in the job, I would not take it. (ie. FW flight instructing or mail run). Though the guys flight time went up fast and they moved on while I was on the ground toting a hammer! I haven't missed out and I can say I have enjoyed most of my aviation experience, and will so for the next long while.

I feel strongly that even without an association, the laws of supply and demand will take over and we will start earning what we should, if not more.

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Maxtorc --------not as long as there is a total "disconnect" between the companies that train and the industry that's supposed to absorb those new entrants.......and th applies to EVERY industry, trade or profession out there.


The company issue will be the same until it requires more than $50,000 to lease a machine, a grease gun and a box of Kim towels and a manitenance contract to start a helicopter services company. When you can than take that a/c and park across the field from my 20 year old company that I have invested a lifetime of monies and sweat into and "low-ball" my *** off, then the situation will not improve.


The above two items have to be addressed and fixed/corrected or the situation ain't going to improve. The Law of Supply & Demand definitely applies as you stated, but too many pilots to be absorbed and too many companies as described puts that Law of Supply & Demand on the negative side.......and that's where we are now. Me and my ilk retiring will only assuage the situation momentarily because it's been like that for tooooooo long. Still like your attitude though, so keep pumpin'. :up:

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It's amazing how you guys can interpret what was said by HEPAC in the posted by-laws of the association.


Everything that you guys mention now has already been stated, in the past.


So, what's new, finally woke up???????


BubbleBoy, your baby steps only include pilot's, my baby steps included the guys that keep you in the air.


Remember Wilbur, he not only built it, he flew it.



Cheers, Don


PS: I even contacted H-A-C and advised them that we would be working with them for the betterment of the industry.


I also wrote the President of CHL and advised him that he could listen to an association or a union. He seemed to prefer the union. Have fun.

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Here's the original effort of HEPAC, it looks to be about time to think about trying this again


Helicopter Engineers and Pilots Association, Canada (HEPAC), will be a non-profit organization seeking to improve the profession of helicopter engineers and pilots. CAaviation.com will be providing web space and support for HEPAC.


HEPAC will do so through industry lobbying, the promotion of safety research and advancements and seeking improvements in pilot, engineering and employer relations.


Visit Helicopter Engineers & Pilots Association, Canada.

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