A skills shortage or a pilot shortage?

A skills shortage or a pilot shortage?

As the industry addresses the potential of a ‘skills shortage’ we explore the ‘HeliTrax’ system offered by Helitech International exhibitor, HeliSpeed. Built by HeliSpeed CEO, Geoff Packer the system delivers a solution to the pending pilot shortage through a connected community of trained pilots, proving that resourcing does not need to be the shackle delaying the industry’s continued growth.

HeliSpeed’s HeliTrax service offers clear and tangible benefits for companies requiring only occasional pilot crewing for activities such as ferry flights and ground runs, but there is also an increasingly beneficial opportunity for operators who are reluctant to increase their permanent employed staffing, unless they have certainty of contracts going forward.

In the current volatile commercial environment, there has been a growing trend for oil and gas companies to adjust contracts using their power to terminate at will with short notice periods, resulting in many operators looking for the same flexibility with both the aircraft they lease and their personnel. This flexibility has in reality always been available for overseas operators using expatriate pilots, with employment channelled through companies to reduce employment costs and limit security of tenure.

However, through the HeliTrax system, this option is available for all jurisdictions, enabling the operator to assess core staffing needs and top up or reduce staffing with crew as and when needed, a practice referred to as ‘peak shaving’. This means that operators have access to pilots with the appropriate training and skills base to fulfil their specific needs. It is also a cost-effective means to fulfil project-based or last-minute appointments where pilots can be hired by requirement, limiting operational and staffing costs as the model operates on a supply and demand model. The benefits for pilots working under this scheme includes flexibility and income at a time when many have been laid off and permanent opportunities are limited.

Over the past 12 months it has been widely reported that the industry faces a potential pilot shortage, with researchers at the University of North Dakota are partnering with Helicopter Foundation International and Helicopter Association International to paint a picture of growing demand and trailing supply. Their predictions, which span the next 18 years, suggest that supply will still likely fall short of demand by more than 350 per annum – worsening to a total of 7,649 pilots at the end of the forecast period.

However, it is apparent that it isn’t a pilot shortage – but a skills shortage. This problem has a clear solution – appropriate training paid for by the pilot with the security of future work – on a programme such as HeliSpeed’s HeliTrax.

Packer believes that this offers a new operational model for helicopter operators, which could eventually embrace engineering as well as aircrew, driven by economic necessity. It offers a solution as the market adjusts to a new market reality and adopts to different business models.

HeliSpeed returns to Helitech International this October to showcase its market-leading skills matrix of hundreds of pilots covering the majority of platforms in multiple regulatory environments. For more information or to discuss your recruitment needs, visit the team on stand J55.


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