By By Andrew Parker, managing editor | June 18, 2010
A trio of Rotor & Wing contributors led a panel discussion, “Adding to Your Fleet,” on June 8 during the 2010 Safety & Training Summit in Denver. Editor-at-Large Ernie Stephens and columnist Lee Benson spoke along with HeliValue$ President Sharon Desfor, and U.S. Coast Guard Lt. Todd Vorenkamp—also a columnist—moderated the panel. “As it’s time to acquire new aircraft, you have to re-think everything, including your attitude about some of the things that you poo-poo’ed 10 years ago,” Stephens said, relating his initial reluctance to early night vision goggles (NVGs) in the 1980s before eventually “becoming a convert” when introduced to newer-generation NVG technology during a more recent helicopter training course.
Benson, a retired LA County Fire Department senior pilot, explained why it’s important for any unit or operation to have a file that says: What are my aircraft needs? “For Miami-Dade [Police Dept], a hurricane came through about 10 or 12 years ago, ripped the top of their hangar off, and boom—they’ve got no aircraft. … They were insured, they had the money, but were they up to speed about what do we really need, what’s available, what’s out there, and what should we put in our new aircraft?”
Desfor said that operators should ask two questions when purchasing a helicopter: What is it worth today, and what will it be worth when selling the helicopter, or renewing the lease? She handed out a memory drive with the current values for the most popular options on each of 100 different helicopter models. “Some options will become so popular that they not only stop adding to the value of the helicopter, instead you’re going to have a deduction if that helicopter doesn’t have it,” Desfor said. “If you’re flying a Bell 212, and it doesn’t have a cargo hook, then you have a problem at resale time—you’re going to need to put one on, or have an allowance for the buyer,” she continued.