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Read More: eVTOL 101
May 23, 2019

What you need to know about the "future of vertical flight."

The newest player in transportation technology is the electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft and its projected use for air taxis and urban air mobility (UAM).

At HAI HELI-EXPO 2019 in Atlanta, eVTOL appeared in everything from panel discussions and education sessions to prototypes on the show floor. One panel discussion, The Electric VTOL Revolution, hosted by the Vertical Flight Society, brought together leaders in eVTOL to discuss where the industry stands now and where it’s headed in the future.

Why eVTOL and UAM?

eVTOL describes any type of aircraft that takes off and lands vertically using electric or hybrid-electric propulsion. This covers everything from ultralights and personal air vehicles to future air-taxi models such as the Bell Nexus.

eVTOLs could be used in many missions that helicopters already do, from package delivery to disaster relief. But eVTOL designers and manufacturers point to the technology’s advantages over traditional aircraft: eVTOLs could be more cost-efficient to operate and could carry increased payloads, all while reducing noise.

UAM is only one future application for those vehicles. Like most new technologies, UAM is being developed to solve a problem: “If I live in a city with impossible automobile traffic that can’t support more ground transportation infrastructure, can I bring my daily commute to the sky to get around quickly and efficiently?”

Why Now?

“eVTOL has exciting potential that we think will revolutionize not only vertical flight, but society as a whole,” says Mike Hirschberg, executive director of the Vertical Flight Society. “We have been examining the potential for eVTOL for six years, and it’s not a matter of if it’s going to happen—it’s a matter of when.”

Hirschberg explains that the time to explore and embrace this technology is now. “We are currently experiencing huge advances in electric motors and batteries, as well as the modernization of design tools, computer simulation of fuselages, and all aspects of flight control that we didn’t have five to 10 years ago,” says Hirschberg. “There has even been discussion about moving to performance-based regulations and certification for aircraft, which would be a major game changer.”

“We think about the question of ‘why now?’ a lot at Bell,” says Scott Drennan, vice president of Bell’s innovation team. “We see this as market demand and technology coming together at the same time.”

Read More: New Products from HAI HELI-EXPO 2019
May 23, 2019

Small businesses bring innovative products to the industry.

While news from large companies dominated the daily headlines at HAI HELI‑EXPO 2019, the industry’s small-business ­innovators had their own stories to tell. From safety programs to inventive crew resource management solutions, new products and services supporting everyone from pilots and operators to OEMs made their debut on the show floor. Below is a sampling of the small-business creative spirit that keeps our industry growing.

New Services

HeliExperts International: Heliport Safety Certification

With no universal oversight regulations, heliports around the world vary considerably in level of safety. HeliExperts International (HEI) launched its Heliport Safety and Certification Program at HAI HELI‑EXPO 2019 to address critical industry needs for increased heliport risk mitigation. Using best practices from the FAA, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), and industry leaders, the program seeks to identify risks before they can cause an accident.

“Without standardized heliport regulations regarding heliport safety, the vast majority of heliports contain significant safety risks,” says HEI Managing Member Ray Syms, whose company has designed more than 850 heliports and audited more than 3,000. “The idea behind the program is to provide a solution for operators, insurance companies, and ­municipalities to determine if heliport risks are mitigated to the highest degree possible.” For more information, visit the company's website at www.heliexperts​​international.com.

Napoleon Engineering Services: Bearing Engineering

With OEM supply-chain headaches slowing deliveries, manufacturers are bringing more services in-house to meet customer deadlines. Napoleon Engineering Services offers a unique service: reverse engineering type-certified bearings in support of parts manufacturing approval authorization.

“Our mission is to remove barriers to supply chains due to the difficulty in obtaining bearings,” says Chris Napoleon, president and chief engineer at Napoleon Engineering Services. “We reduce lead times to 16–26 weeks, compared to OEM lead times that are typically 50–90 weeks.”

The company typically performs reverse engineering services in about six weeks, delivering a full technical packet for submission to the FAA. Napoleon Engineering also offers full bearing manufacturing capability with the ability to manufacture bearings with outside diameters between ¾ inch and 14 inches. For more information, visit  www.nes​bearings.com.

New Programs

Flightdocs: Cloud-Based Flight Operations Platform

Flightdocs unveiled its Flightdocs Operations tracking and communications platform. Flightdocs Operations integrates with the company’s popular Flightdocs HMX maintenance tracking platform, currently used by more than 200 operators for more than 1,000 helicopters, to create a complete end-to-end operations management solution for helicopter operators. The platform’s core functions include flight scheduling, service planning, crew and passenger management, customizable flight logs, and expense reporting, and includes a secure messenger communication tool.

“Flightdocs Operations is the modern, cloud-based, real-time mobile platform our customers have been requesting,” says Flightdocs President Greg Heine. According to Heine, 12 companies were already signed up for the program by the first day of HAI HELI‑EXPO 2019. For more information, visit www.flightdocs.com.

New Products

Eye in the Sky: Cockpit Data Recorder

In February 2015, the 18-year-old son of New Zealand helicopter legend Louisa “Choppy” Patterson was killed when the Robinson R44 he was riding in broke apart in midflight. In response to this tragedy, Patterson began developing Eye in the Sky, a durable and lightweight audio, video, and data in-flight recorder.

“The accident report said there was an in-flight break-up, but there was no determination of probable cause,” says Patterson, who is also CEO of Over the Top, a New Zealand–based air tour operator. “Had there been a product like Eye in the Sky onboard, there wouldn’t be as many questions [about the cause of the accident]. We could increase safety.”

The crash-resistant camera and data recorder captures HD video, high-resolution images, and data, including location (via GPS), airspeed, altitude, g-forces, pitch, roll, and yaw. The device’s SD card can hold 40 hours of data. The onboard battery continues to record after shutdown and immediate power loss. For more information, visit www.eyeinthesky.co.nz.

Aviation Specialties Unlimited: Night-Vision Goggles

Once known as a reseller of night-vision products, as well as service and repair, Aviation Specialties Unlimited, Inc. (ASU) is now an OEM. The company introduced its new white phosphor E3 Lightweight Night Vision Goggles in Atlanta. Paired with the Aeronox mount and battery pack, the full system shaves 200 grams off standard night-vision goggle weights.

“Weight is a big concern, and it always comes back to haunt pilots as neck and back issues,” says ASU Chief Executive Officer Mike Atwood. “We listened to what pilots wanted and developed a lighter, more versatile goggle system with the expanded capabilities they need for mission success.”

In addition to its light weight, the new goggle system is easily repairable, fits multiple helmet styles, and features a retractable breakaway lanyard. For more information, visit the company’s website at www.asu​-nvg.com.

Read More: HAI Salutes Excellence in Vertical Lift
May 23, 2019

Celebrating the best in vertical aviation.

Every day, on every continent, members of the vertical-lift community do amazing things with helicopters and other vertical-lift aircraft. They get jobs done that can’t be done any other way.

But for some, simply getting the job done is not enough. Whether in a single instance or throughout a career, these pilots, maintenance technicians, flight instructors, safety professionals, operators, and industry leaders from around the world excel—and set an example of excellence that inspires our industry.

For more than 50 years, HAI has encouraged and celebrated the highest standards of professionalism within the vertical-lift community through its Salute to Excellence Awards. The awards reflect outstanding achievements from across our industry.

At the 2019 Salute to Excellence Awards luncheon on March 6 during HAI HELI‑EXPO 2019 in Atlanta, the following honorees were recognized. HAI congratulates them and celebrates their contributions to our industry. Their passion for excellence is an inspiration to us all.

Nominations for the 2020 Salute to Excellence Awards, to be celebrated at HAI HELI‑EXPO 2020 in Anaheim, will be accepted beginning May 31, 2019. Visit rotor.org/salute for more information.

May 23, 2019

A weekly update illustrating some of the ways that Helicopter Association International (HAI) is “Keeping the Rotors Turning” for our members.

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