Pandemic-Generated Innovation

Jim Viola 2020 Q4

Adapting to new conditions can lead to positive changes.

This November, Americans had the privilege of participating in our national elections. It can be a contentious time, but this is what makes a great democracy: the vibrancy and diversity of views, all coming together in an imperfectly perfect process. We watched the election closely and want to thank all of our members who fulfilled their civic duty by voting.

As we start to wrap up 2020, I hope this message finds you and your family healthy and safe. But just surviving isn’t enough. HAI wants to help you take flight as soon as the health experts say it’s safe to do so. So we’ve been seeding 2021 with as much positive rotor wash as we can.

Faced with the worst pandemic in 100 years, we realized that HAI members and the industry need up-to-date, comprehensive information on COVID-19 and its effect on vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) operations. The COVID-19 section on rotor.org provides a central location for information gathered from OEMs, government agencies, and international health organizations. In addition, we created the HAI COVID Clean Program to support members who run public-facing operations. Operators participating in the program pledge to adhere to guidelines from OEMs, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the World Health Organization to protect the health of their staff and customers and maintain sanitary aircraft and facilities. So far, 16 companies are participating in COVID Clean, including an OEM, a university aviation program, and air ambulance and tour operators. We also have a ”Global Regulations” section that contains COVID-19 information from 10 regulatory agencies around the world.

This year saw the introduction of our HAI@Work webinar series. We initially created the webinars, which take place every Thursday, to provide you with current information on COVID-19–related topics, such as stimulus efforts, employment, and maintaining flight readiness. Now, we’ve expanded the series to include general industry topics, such as advanced air mobility, safety management, and insurance. The great response we’ve received—our webinars have been viewed in more than 50 countries, with around 25 countries represented at each webinar—tells me our industry was eager for this source of information and news. If you have webinar suggestions for us—topics you’d like to share or an expert you’d like to hear from—please email me at president@rotor.org.

I expect our industry will continue to feel this pandemic’s effects until a vaccine is widely available, which I hope will be by early next year. This is an incredibly challenging time for businesses, which is why HAI has been so active in advocating for our members for legislative and regulatory relief. Tough times like these are exactly when you need the support and strength in numbers that an association provides.

Even as we wait out this pandemic, however, our industry has continued to evolve. Our OEMs are actively developing advanced air mobility and remotely piloted aircraft. Our pilots have decades of experience working in the low-altitude, confined-area airspace. The VTOL community—manufacturers, operators, pilots, and maintainers—is ideally positioned to build, operate, fly, and fix these aircraft.

All in all, I’m feeling optimistic for our industry because of our history of adaptation and versatility. While it may feel as though this pandemic will drag on, there is an end in sight. When that happens (and it will), I want our members to be primed for success and ready to go fly. 

 

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