A unified industry is critical to our future success.

The decision to rebrand Helicopter Association International (HAI) as Vertical Aviation International (VAI) brings growth and unity to our community while enabling innovation to thrive. (You can find more information about our new brand, including our vision and purpose, in “Vertical Aviation International Is the New Identity of Helicopter Association International”).

James Viola

If you design, build, operate, fix, fly, or supply vertical flight aircraft or support the industry, you belong as a member of VAI. Yes, our increasingly diverse fleet may use different fuels or specialize in different missions, but VAI will focus on what unites us: the unique capabilities of all aircraft that can execute vertical or short takeoffs and landings. In 2022, we announced our Strategic Industry Plan, where we defined five initiatives focused on positioning the industry for growth. Below is a brief update on our efforts to realize those initiatives; for a more comprehensive account of our activities over the past year, please consult the VAI 2023 Annual Report. If you don’t already have a copy, you can find it online at rotor.org/annualreport.

Strategic Initiative 1: Unify the Industry. Our rebrand as VAI is the first crucial step toward unifying the industry. We will continue to promote professionalism, safety, and the need to fly neighborly as we educate people outside our industry about the essential services we provide.

Strategic Initiative 2: Engage All Stakeholders. Our rebranding widens our span of influence, as we can now engage with the complete vertical aviation ecosystem worldwide. Through our affiliation with the International Federation of Helicopter Associations, we will increase our engagement with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and work with them and other stakeholders to shape global aviation standards. VAI advocates for performance-based standards that embrace innovation, as well as a single infrastructure standard that accommodates all vertically capable aircraft.

Strategic Initiative 3: Elevate Safety Culture. Safety is fundamental for the success of our industry. VAI is dedicated to elevating safety standards across aviation, strengthening its safety culture at all levels. We will continue to provide our members with access to numerous safety programs, including our new Operational Risk and Resilience Accreditation Program, introduced at HAI HELI-EXPO 2024.

Strategic Initiative 4: Develop Business Resources. VAI offers more than 30 benefits for our company members and individual members, including health and loss-of-license insurance, legal resources, and high-quality education tailored to vertical aviation operations.

Strategic Initiative 5: Develop a Pathway to Attract and Maintain the Best Workforce in the World. Addressing the shortage of skilled aviation professionals is a VAI priority. (See “Building the Aviation Workforce of Tomorrow,” to learn more about VAI’s efforts in this area.)

To all VAI members reading this: if you are happy with the value you receive from your investment in us, please tell your industry friends and colleagues. If you are not satisfied, please email me at [email protected] and let me know how we could do better. Your feedback, both positive and negative, is essential for our success.

Our transformation to VAI signifies a new beginning. I hope you are as excited as I am about the many opportunities before us. We have our destination (vision), our purpose (mission), and our flight plan (strategic initiatives). It is now time to power up and begin our journey!

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James Viola

James Viola

James A. Viola is VAI’s president and CEO. After a career as a US Army aviator, he joined the FAA, where he served as director of the Office of General Aviation Safety Assurance before joining VAI. A dual-rated pilot, James holds ATP ratings in both airplanes and helicopters and is a CFII. James can be contacted at [email protected].