New helo industry group launches amid “a lot of pressure points”

The Australian Helicopter Industry Association (AHIA) is being launched to give a voice to rotorcraft operators four years after the collapse of the Helicopter Association of Australia (HAA).

Organisers say they hope to complete registration of the AHIA by July with an official launch anticipated at the Avalon Airshow 2013.

Those behind the effort say it was spurred by the death of longtime ABC helicopter pilot Gary Ticehurst in a crash near Lake Eyre in August 2011. Ticehurst had been active in the HAA.

“It has taken Gary’s death to jolt people into doing something positive for the industry once again,” Rob Rich, who is convening the AHIA, wrote in the group’s first newsletter sent out in April.

The group says the helicopter industry is six times larger than when the HAA was established in 1984 and is growing at  a rate of nine per cent per year, with 1950 helicopters currently registered in Australia.

Rich said he was “aware of a lot of pressure points obstructing development” of the industry.

“They range from a need to seek training and business opportunities for Australian companies in the Asian countries to a review of the alleged delays with the pilot licensing and examination systems.”