Blackpool Airport aiming to be hub for helicopter skills training

A Blackpool scheme is aiming to put the resort at the heart helicopter skills training.

Tuesday, 19th March 2019, 9:38 am
Updated Tuesday, 19th March 2019, 9:43 am
Geoff Packer from Helispeed at Blackpool Airport

Advanced avionics and systems on the next generation of helicopters is leading to a growing skills gap among pilots around the world.

Now a partnership between Blackpool and The Fylde College and Blackpool Airport based HeliSpeed aims to plug that gap by creating a world-class ‘helicopter academy’ at Blackpool Airport.

HeliSpeed matches the needs of helicopter operators around the world with pilots with the right licence, skill set, and relevant experience.

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Blackpool and The Fylde College's Lancashire Energy HQ at Blackpool Airport

Its database of over 700 pilots in 39 countries shows what types of helicopter each is licenced to fly, their areas of operational expertise.

This allows pilots to be supplied quickly, all major large helicopter types to be flown, and a wide range of needs to be met from servicing offshore gas and oil rigs to disaster relief and VIP flights.

Captain Geoff Packer, chief executive officer and founder of HeliSpeed, said that his company’s global reach and vast technical experience provides them with a unique insight what the future holds in terms of the skills needed.

He said: “We know both from our own experience and through our wide net of industry contacts that although there are currently enough pilots around the world their collective pool of skills is steadily shrinking.

“This is largely because helicopter technology is developing fast and pilots need to constantly update their skills and knowledge.

“It’s a problem for our industry that is steadily leading to a skills shortage that will only increase over time and which needs to be addressed. Our new HeliSpeed Academy is designed to do just that.”

HeliSpeed has teamed up with the college through its commercial wing, B&FC for Business, which supports over 1,000 companies across the North West by co-creating workforce development strategies and delivering training.

Development director Claire Jameson, who heads up B&FC for Business said: “Our recently opened Lancashire Energy HQ site at the airport is ideally located to support this exciting new venture. Built at a cost of £12.2m pounds it offers some exceptional and very adaptable facilities for training and which Helispeed will themselves enhance and adapt in line with the training needs of their clients.”

Helispeed expects to add a further eight people to its workforce with the move.