This week’s Heli-Expo 2015 in Orlando is on track to be another record breaker, setting new highs for exhibitor and visitor participation. According to show organizer Helicopter Association International, the global rotorcraft industry is largely enjoying positive business conditions, despite the oil price uncertainty facing its key clients in the energy sector.
“Heli-Expo, being the largest helicopter trade show in the industry, has created again its natural excitement in the industry,” Matthew Zuccaro, HAI president, told AIN. “Usually we break the previous year’s record in one or more of three categories: first-time exhibitors, total number of exhibitors or total attendance. I think we have a good chance in breaking the record for total attendees this year. We’re hoping to get about 20,000 to 21,000.”
Adding together the meeting space and floor space, the convention covers about one million square feet. “We’ll have approximately 750 exhibitors on the floor and we estimate that the aircraft on display will be about 55,” Zuccaro said. The majority of the aircraft on display are real aircraft, not mockups of aircraft.
Orders and sales announced during any convention are always impossible to predict. Zuccaro noted that, “Over the last few shows, the business level has averaged over two billion dollars for the three days of the convention.”
Helicopter safety is always an important goal of HAI and the association has increased the number of safety programs available for attendees at this year’s convention. Yesterday, the association kicked off its HAI Safety Symposium with a session led by officials of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and focused on managing risk in public helicopter operations. This was followed by the Safety Directors Forum, which featured discussions with senior FAA and NTSB officials on emergency response and post-accident procedures.
Started on Monday and continuing through Wednesday is the HAI Rotor Safety Challenge, which is offering 52 free safety events, each lasting 45 minutes and covering a wide range of topics. Convention attendees who take part in at least six safety events will receive a special certificate from HAI.
Other Heli-Expo activities are aimed at helping students interested aviation careers and helping job seekers make contact with employers. The Helicopter Foundation International, HAI’s sister organization, is hosting mentoring sessions for students today. Also today is the HAI Industry Career Fair for those who want to find that perfect job in the helicopter industry…or any job.
Highlighting Heli-Expo this year, as it does every year, will be the annual Salute to Excellence Awards dinner on Wednesday evening. These awards honor those who by a single act or a lifetime of work have reflected the best of the vertical-lift industry.
If you can’t make it to the dinner (and even if you can) check out the pages of this and the next two days’ issues of AIN’s HAI Convention News for stories about all of the Salute to Excellence Awards recipients.