CHC’s recently appointed UK operations director has been working with the North Sea helicopter operator for over a decade and that shows when walking around the Aberdeen hanger.
On a tour of the firm’s Dyce facility Mr Harry Bos was greeted with an “a’right Harry?” by people in all departments as he walked the corridors of the CHC hanger.
Having joined the helicopter operator fresh out of the armed forces where he served as a pilot, Mr Bos transferred his skills and began flying for CHC in 2012.
From Afghanistan to the North Sea
Having served two-and-a-half years in the Navy, Mr Bos moved to the Air Force to pursue his desire to fly helicopters. Earning a fixed-wing license in the Navy, the Netherlands native had to move to the airforce if he wanted his helicopter license.
Serving three years in search and rescue the CHC boss went on deployment to Iraq and Afghanistan.
On this, he said: “On combat medevac, I took part in the first-ever air assault that the Dutch Air Force has done in Afghanistan or basically anywhere in the world.”
Following search and rescue and middle eastern air assaults, Harry Bos began working with CHC in the North Sea.
“Within the year they needed more captains,” he explained, “So I went into captain’s training, and became a captain again.
“I had all the required experience when I joined, but normally they want you to do a year on the North Sea before they promote you to captain.”
Many North Sea firms often look to hire ex-service people as they leave the armed forces, for Mr Bos this is important, however, he believes “you need a combination”.
“Enough people with a civilian background and a number of people with a military background, that makes a happy mix,” according to the UK operations director, “both groups can learn from each other”.
Since joining CHC, he has held a number of positions, having worked as a “flight safety officer”, “deputy chief pilot, chief pilot and manager of flight operations” at the helicopter operator.
Harry Bos also served as the firm’s “union chairman” for a time and last September the Dutchman was promoted to his current role as UK operations director.
In his new role, Mr Bos has been “quite busy learning a lot of stuff”, in particular, he has been brushing up on the areas he “was not doing before.”
“The commercial finance side is quite new to me,” the CHC boss said, “but the good thing is I’ve got a lot of people who are really professional in it and can build on their experience and get their advice on making these decisions.”
Bos’ management style is “very ground level”, having worked for years alongside the other pilots, he knows them very well.
“The engineers I know well because we walk around downstairs and the other people that I’m starting to get to know. I’m trying to be very ground level with them.”
By remaining “ground level” the former airforce pilot makes himself more approachable if and when his staff have issues.
“It makes it easy for them to come to me, but they normally go in the chain so the pilots talk to the chief pilot and then if there are some issues left, they can come to me.”
He remains in contact with his staff by having a presence in every area of his facility.
“I walk around most days early in the morning here and I visit the bases down South every two months.”
And according to Mr Bos, he’s always open for a “good and honest chest poking session”.
This relationship with his employees is something the new boss wants to take forward, when asked what his plans for the business are, Mr Bos said: “I’m trying to increase openness even more than where it has been in the past. I’m trying to push further forward with all the innovation that we’re doing.
“We are working on this thing called clear skies and this is using technology we have to see if we can save on carbon burning during flights.
“What we are trying to achieve is between a four and six per cent reduction in carbon burn, that’s really good for trying to be more green.”
A ‘more green’ CHC
Being “more green” is high up on the list of priorities for the former air force pilot.
Moving forward he wants to look “even more into the renewables”, adding that CHC has “been instrumental in quite a few renewable projects”.
According to the new boss, it’s not just his firm that is interested in reducing it impact on the planet, as he explained: “It’s something that’s in the interest of all our clients as well.
“Everybody wants to move as green as possible. Net Zero is something that you hear about a lot so it’s only natural for us to move with that.”
This greener outlook for the North Sea helicopter operator is the boss’ main focus ahead.
“My outlook for the coming year is to be a sustainable business and look at where we can grow responsibly.
“So if there are more renewable projects coming up, see what we can do there.
“What are the new projects coming up? How we can support our customers best in that way?”
The Dutchman wants to make the aviation industry more accessible, one way he’s doing this is through CHC’s apprenticeship programme, something he is “quite proud of”.
“We take young people and train them up to be engineers,” he said, “we are just about to start a new cohort in April.”
Mr Bos wants to encourage diversity by “getting more female engineers” into the industry.
As well as increasing diversity, the helicopter operator is looking to engage the local community.
“A lot of people here see the helicopters flying over, but they don’t really know what it takes to get into the helicopter business.
“We want to target those people and we’ve got quite a bit of interest from the region.”
The course involves “part classroom training” and “hands-on experience” and those who complete the course have a good chance of getting a job with CHC.
As the boss explained: “The last cohort of apprentices, we’ve taken on to be full-time engineers.”
“This is because it’s important to keep the build-up of new people in the pipeline going.
“There’s a lot of older engineers, same for pilots by the way, but we need to make sure that we’ve got the future generation coming in.”