Feb 08, 2024

Collins hosts 2023 Goodrich Hoist Operators Conference

Estimated reading time 4 minutes, 46 seconds.

The weekend prior to Heli-Expo 2023 in Atlanta, Georgia, Collins Aerospace once again hosted its annual Goodrich Hoist Operators Conference.

The two-day event showcased presentations by worldwide experts, trainers, and operators from various fields, including search-and-rescue, law enforcement, emergency medical services, and oil-and-gas/utility. Topics of discussion included synthetic and simulator training, coordination with drones and UAVs, operational program overviews, mission debriefing processes, and more. Collins Aerospace also provided product updates.

Throughout the weekend, attendees were afforded time between sessions for networking, which often turned into additional discussions and comparisons of operational techniques.

Tony Webber, long time fire/rescue pilot and CFI with the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department, told Vertical that gatherings like this are invaluable for the industry.

“The lessons learned at an event like this, both good and bad, benefit everyone who works in this field,” Webber said.

“It’s not all about just telling the stories of hoist operations that went right. When an operator recounts an incident where things went wrong, it can be a great teaching moment for the rest of us. It makes people like me say, ‘I’m not going to let that happen to us!’ — and we can take a closer look at the way we do things. The size of this crowd here is a testament to the value of this conference.”

This year’s numbers proved Webber’s sentiments, as over 160 attendees were present for both days.

Nick Demogines, director of business development for Goodrich Hoist & Winch, related to Vertical that this was the largest turnout in all the years they have been hosting the event.

“We see increases every year as word gets out and operators begin to hear about and see the benefits of this conference,” he said. “Everyone in this industry can contribute to and gain knowledge by sharing information with one another.

“Our goal is to build up the hoist community and allow our customers to network with their peers. We want to help them learn from each other and to make what we all do more effective and safer.”

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The concept of “effective and safer” was reflected in comments by Matt Dobson, of Babcock Australia & New Zealand. “It is important to not only choose the right people for this job but also to train them properly and often,” he said. “Winching is the most dangerous part of our missions and without the proper training, things can go wrong. Experience is the best teacher.”

Echoing this idea was Lance Shank, master trooper/flight paramedic with the Maryland State Police (MSP) Aviation Command. “We strive to train as realistically as possible, to the point that members of our team have told us that actual rescues were easier than the training.”

Tim McMahon, chief pilot of the MSP added, “Coming to these conferences helps us keep up with the best industry practices.”

With the excellent turnout seen this year, Collins Aerospace plans to continue the tradition of the pre-Heli-Expo hoist conference next year when the annual helicopter gathering returns to Anaheim, California, in 2024.