Thank you, HAI!
It’s hard to believe my time as chairman of the HAI Board of Directors is ending. This year has passed with blinding speed, but the memories will last a lifetime! Serving you, the HAI members, has been a humbling experience. Each person I’ve had the privilege to work with within the HAI community is a true credit to our industry.
The HAI Board of Directors provides guidance to the HAI staff regarding the strategic direction of the association as it pursues its mission to benefit its members while supporting a healthy, robust vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) industry. This year, HAI has been able to do that in part by hosting HAI HELI-EXPO 2022 in Dallas. Having missed the 2021 show due to COVID-19, we believed bringing together our global industry was both welcome and necessary. And we were right. Attendance at the 2022 show, for both attendees and exhibitors, was at least 90% of our 2020 numbers, even considering the travel challenges still present in March this year. This is no small feat when you consider the attendance numbers of other aviation shows.
While some things have returned to normal, in other ways HAI is changing. Some developments are the result of the transition from longtime President and CEO Matt Zuccaro to Jim Viola, who now holds that position. And soon after Jim assumed the left seat at HAI in early 2020, the world around us changed. Jim’s unwavering vision, aided by an incredible staff and supportive board of directors, was a factor in HAI’s continued leadership role in aviation.
Committed to serving the entire global VTOL industry, HAI continues to strengthen its international ties. In addition to collaborating regularly with the nine national helicopter associations that are part of our International Partnership Program (IPP), HAI is working more closely with the European Helicopter Association, an IPP member. The board of directors has also brought on Francois Lassale, CEO of Heli SGI, to advise us on international issues. In addition, HAI’s working groups are actively working to recruit non-US members. These measures will enable our industry to better navigate our operational, regulatory, and cultural differences while celebrating our mutual commitment to and passion for vertical flight.
Another way our industry is evolving is the new aircraft entering the airspace in the next decade. HAI has engaged the manufacturers and operators of these exciting technologies, offering our support and the benefit of our industry’s 75-plus years of operational experience.
Having the opportunity to play a small role in the transformation of our industry has been amazing. Thank you to all the HAI members who chose me to represent their interests on the HAI board and within the larger rotorcraft industry. My positive experiences during my board service were only possible because I was joined there by a group of professionals committed to enhancing HAI’s success as a robust organization that enables our community to come together and address our common challenges. Of course, the biggest component in our every achievement has been the support of the HAI members. You make HAI—and all its safety, advocacy, education, and networking programs—possible.
In closing, let me say that HAI is in good hands. Jeff Smith, the incoming HAI board chair, has tremendous passion for our industry. Combined with Jim Viola’s tenacity and insight, HAI’s future is bright! Whether advocating for our industry, connecting it through events, addressing our challenges, or assisting individual members with their issues, HAI will be there for you.