HAC calls for government to support helicopter industry during COVID-19 crisis

The Helicopter Association of Canada (HAC) has called upon the federal government to provide financial and administrative relief to help helicopter operators, OEMs and suppliers weather the impact of the COVID-19 crisis.

HAC says Canada's helicopter industry needs financial support to help it endure the COVID-19 crisis. Mike Reyno Photo
HAC says Canada’s helicopter industry needs financial support to help it endure the COVID-19 crisis. Mike Reyno Photo

In an open letter to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and three other cabinet ministers, HAC president Fred Jones said the association supported the government’s actions in attempting to limit the spread of the virus, but said that the current situation “has the potential to threaten the survival” of many of the association’s members.

In addition to “urgently needed” financial assistance to reduce the hardship the crisis presents, Jones called for the government to approve online training for pilots to help them avoid travel, and asked for the validity of pilot proficiency checks and recurrent testing to be extended.

“We urge you to implement a financial aid package for the air transportation industry, immediately,” Jones wrote.

The government has urged Canadians to “avoid all non-essential air travel,” and Jones said this has caused projects and all but essential operations in the helicopter industry to be cancelled.

Operators, he pointed out, would normally be preparing for the busy summer season, with crews getting ready for spring training and proficiency testing.

Having to do this preparation while conforming to self-isolation standards will be a particular challenge, said Jones

“The 14-day self-isolation process for employees returning from international travel, and travel restrictions [themselves] are frustrating our members that need to send their crews outside the country or elsewhere in Canada for training or ground school,” he said.


To avoid the delay in allowing these employees to return to work, Jones called for the government to allow online training for initial or recurrent company ground training.

“Particularly for helicopter operators that provide emergency medical services, fire-suppression services and services to northern, remote and indigenous communities, and to communities during break-up – crews unable to fly because of lapsed training/testing/ground school could be life threatening,” he said.

Finally, he asked for the government to extend the validity of current pilot proficiency checks and recurrent training/testing/recurrent ground school requirements until at least October 2020, or until the government declares the pandemic is over.

“Thousands of jobs and many communities rely on the operation of the commercial helicopter industry,” said Jones.


3 thoughts on “HAC calls for government to support helicopter industry during COVID-19 crisis

  1. I see Jones is just looking at it from a management or owners prospective to help them get the work done nothing for the aircrews that’s have been affected by the virus with loss of work or in quarantine. You don’t have to be over seas to contract this illness. Heli-ski crews that have been with positive carriers of the virus this winter, confirmed cases in 2 lodges now and for the crews that worked with the carriers of the virus sent home in some cases the company’s take is you willingly went to work it’s not our problem. Go home and self quarantine. Don’t ask for help because it’s not our problem.

  2. Dear H-A-C: Quit trying to milk the system, when there is a downturn in the requirement for helicopters, that is business and you take your licks.
    I am sure that all requirements for essential services have already been contracted for.
    Shareholders and owners/operators are well aware that this is a Commercial Operation on an as required BASIS, if not required the aircraft sit on the ground and the crews go on U.I. if they qualify, if not, go to Vegas and take your chances.

    Remember we are all taxpayers and not required to support a
    nonessential services.

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