Coming soon: new initiatives for HAI and global safety.

I hope this edition of ROTOR magazine finds you healthy and doing well in 2021. I was looking forward to seeing you all this month at what would’ve been my second HAI HELI‑EXPO® as your president and CEO, but as you know, we had to alter our flight plans to adjust to changing conditions.

We’ve now fully shifted gears to planning HAI HELI‑EXPO 2022, which will be held in Dallas, Mar. 7–10, with exhibits open Mar. 8–10. Mark your calendars now, and please plan to bring all your business associates, employees, and friends. Everything is bigger in Texas, and we’re certainly planning a show to match.

In the meantime, I hope you’re keeping up with all the things HAI is doing during this pandemic to ensure that you’re ready to shift gears and get back to business. As you’ll read in this edition of ROTOR, your association staff has been hard at work for you. Thanks to our Government Affairs team, HAI members have received more than $179 million in US Payroll Support Program funds (p. 12). Meanwhile, HAI’s Member Services Department is moving online the content and events previously scheduled for New Orleans, so you won’t have to skip a beat in your professional development (p. 17). We’re also launching a new, members-only safety program (p. 38), and of course you’re reading and hearing about all this due to the excellent work of the MIC (Marketing, Information, and Communications) Department.

But we’re not done yet. HAI surveyed the global vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) industry to help us understand what you need today and what will help you achieve future success. Based on your feedback, we’re drafting a five-year strategic plan for the association’s activities and growth. This plan will then go out to you, the HAI member, for your review and comments. Please watch for this document in the next 60 to 90 days. And if you already have something to say, don’t wait—drop me a note at president@rotor.org.

One of the bigger changes that has occurred in the past 12 months has been the expansion of what started in 2005 as the International Helicopter Safety Team (IHST). At that time, the global helicopter community—manufacturers, operators, associations, and regulators—joined together to reduce the worldwide civil helicopter accident rate by 80% in 10 years. In 2019, the IHST recalibrated, incorporating as the International Helicopter Safety Foundation (IHSF) with a vision of zero accidents. The IHST/IHSF has been globally recognized for its work in advancing helicopter safety. Its regional safety teams, each of which leads safety efforts in its geographic area, have made significant contributions in developing and sharing effective, relevant safety initiatives for the helicopter industry.

A change of leadership within several IHSF stakeholders, compounded by the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, precipitated a review of the IHSF. In addition, we’re on the cusp of a tremendous expansion in VTOL aircraft and operations, including civil tiltrotors, new vertical flight technology, and eventually autonomous VTOL operations.

The new organization for advancing the safety of international vertical flight—including all VTOL aircraft—is the Vertical Aviation Safety Team, or VAST, which will pursue a data-informed, regionally based, consensus-driven approach to eliminating fatal accidents in the global VTOL industry. Beginning Apr. 15, you can visit vast.aero to learn more. Our support for VAST reflects HAI’s duty to protect the future of our industry by ensuring its safety.

Author

  • James A. Viola is HAI’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 HAI. A dual-rated pilot, Jim holds ATP ratings in both airplanes and helicopters and is a CFII. Jim can be contacted at president@rotor.org.

James Viola

James Viola

James A. Viola is HAI’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 HAI. A dual-rated pilot, Jim holds ATP ratings in both airplanes and helicopters and is a CFII. Jim can be contacted at president@rotor.org.

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