Read More: The Post-Election Landscape
November 16, 2020

HAI sets its legislative agenda for the new Congress.

Now that the US general election has concluded, Congress has returned to Washington. While candidates elected to the US Senate and House of Representatives won’t be sworn in until Jan. 3, 2021, the Congress that has been in place since January 2019 began a lame duck session that is expected to extend well into December. Passing appropriations bills, defense legislation, and a new COVID relief package before the end of the year will be among the top legislative priorities.

Historically, Congress has an easier time advancing must-pass legislation like appropriations packages in a lame duck session, due to the conclusion of election frenzy, but that may not be the case this year. With some state results in the presidential race being challenged by the Trump administration and two Senate races heading to a January 2021 runoff that will determine which political party controls the upper chamber, the same partisan gridlock that’s plagued the 116th Congress could continue for the remainder of the year.

The 117th Congress

When the 117th Congress convenes in the beginning of January, a new legislative year will begin. All unpassed legislation of the previous Congress will expire (with the exception of treaties). If any of those bills is to move forward, it must be reintroduced.

On opening day of the 117th Congress, the House will elect a speaker, announce party leaders, and establish rules for the legislative body as well as policies for certain floor practices. The House may also adopt resolutions assigning some or many of its members to committees. This process regularly continues over several more weeks.

The committee assignment process occurs primarily within the party groups—the Republican Conference and the Democratic Caucus. There are representatives and senators currently serving who represent other parties, but their numbers are so small (one in the House, who actually retires at the end of the 116th Congress, and two in the Senate) that they must work with the two main parties. In fact, both the House and Senate are primarily organized around our two-party system. Legislators and their staff—there’s a red team and a blue team, and everyone knows which one you play for.

The Senate will follow a similar protocol in January. After swearing in senators elected or reelected in the general election (approximately one-third of the Senate), the upper chamber will adopt administrative resolutions and standing orders. If there is a vacancy or a change in party control, the senators may elect a new president pro tempore (generally the longest-serving senator from the majority party; in the 116th Congress, Sen. Chuck Grassley [R-Iowa] served in this role) and one or more Senate officers.

Negotiations between parties over committee sizes and ratios, action on committee assignments, and decisions on party leadership changes and organization may begin during the early organization meetings for the new Senate, which will occur in November and December. The committee assignment process may continue after the beginning days of the 117th Congress. At some time, usually other than opening day, the Senate adopts committee assignment resolutions. Any changes in Senate party leadership take place in respective party conference meetings.

As a result of the November elections, Democrats will maintain their majority in the House but by fewer seats than they held in the 116th Congress. The majority in the Senate will be determined by the results of the runoff elections in Georgia on Jan. 5. If the 117th Congress ends up with the same parties in the majority as the previous 116th Congress, party and committee leadership aren’t expected to change too dramatically. Legislative priorities for the two chambers will be set by their respective leadership and could resemble those of the 116th Congress.

Read More: HAI Introduces Membership Services Department
November 16, 2020

Exciting changes are underway at HAI, and the result means significant changes for our members.

HAI’s Operations and Business Development Departments have merged to create the Member Services Department. This group directly supports HAI members by providing services in regulatory assistance and advocacy, operations support, education, and membership and by producing HAI HELI-EXPO, conferences, and other events. This change was prompted by two events: the hiring of Michael Hertzendorf as VP of Operations and the retirement of Karen Gebhart, HAI’s longtime VP of Business Development.

“As we discussed the vacancy in Business Development, it became clear that we had an opportunity to demonstrate our commitment to our members,” says James Viola, president and CEO of HAI. “The Operations staff was directly engaged in providing services to our members, often advocating for them before regulatory authorities. And we recognized that increasing our members’ satisfaction is the path to growth. It made sense to reorganize these two departments into an integrated unit focused on providing member value.

“HAI is grateful to Karen for her years of service to the association and her part in making HAI HELI-EXPO the success that it is today,” adds Viola. “The show is recognized as one of the fastest-growing trade events, and it remains the largest helicopter show in the world. Karen’s work, and that of her team, ensured that members of the global vertical lift community could find everything they need in this one event.”

In his expanded role as VP of Member Services, Hertzendorf will oversee HAI’s work for its members in flight operations, maintenance and technology, safety, education, events, and membership. He will also work closely with HAI’s Government Affairs Department to ensure HAI members across the VTOL industry are protected from overly burdensome regulations.

“We’re very pleased Mike accepted this new responsibility just as he was settling in. He understands that continuing to grow member value is a priority for HAI,” says Viola.

After a 29-year career in the US Army as a special operations aviator, Hertzendorf most recently served as CEO of NUAIR (Northeast UAS Airspace Integration Research), where he was responsible for the integration, synchronization, and execution of all activities necessary to develop a national unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) traffic management system within New York state’s 50-mile UAS corridor.

His background in both manned aviation and UAS provides Hertzendorf with a unique perspective. “Mike’s history as an army aviator and leader, along with his work at NUAIR, means that he understands the issues and can represent the needs of both rotorcraft operators and those working to integrate new classes of aircraft into the airspace,” says Viola.

“I’m excited to join the HAI team in these unprecedented times for aviation,” says Hertzendorf. “I look forward to advancing HAI’s global presence as well as incorporating future VTOL platforms. With their experience in rotorcraft and low-altitude operations, HAI members are well positioned to take advantage of advancements in VTOL technology that I believe will ultimately improve the economic viability of our industry.”

Read More: The Vertical Flight Family
November 16, 2020

We share a goal: to provide safe, efficient aviation services.

In an industry that was once seeking a cure for the mass exodus of helicopter pilots to the airlines, times have changed. Instead of wasting time in a futile attempt to turn back the clock, the vertical flight industry is engaged in a flurry of innovation, developing a multitude of aircraft solutions and technologies that will change how we operate, as well as attract and retain the best talent in aviation.

Today, as the airline industry tightens its purse strings due to a pandemic, the remotely piloted and optionally piloted aviation sectors have joined manned helicopters to form the vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) industry. We’re moving forward together with no looking back.

Aircraft that don’t require the pilot to be on board are here to stay, especially in those missions considered dull and dangerous. Unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) and optionally piloted aircraft are being developed and tested at a rapid rate across the globe. Manufacturers, regulators, researchers, operators—all are working diligently to develop the aircraft, infrastructure, and regulations for these new, exciting aviation missions.

Helicopter operators may have been initially suspicious of these innovations. However, as they learn about the capabilities and limitations of these aircraft, I’m confident they’ll introduce these solutions within their fleets. It won’t happen overnight, but it will happen, just as our industry has accepted turbine engines, GPS, fly-by-wire, and many other innovations. Why? Because keeping up with the latest technology is one way our industry keeps the rotors turning!

Surviving as an operator in the helicopter industry has never been easy. That’s why representatives from six companies met on Dec. 13, 1948, to organize the Helicopter Council in Burbank, California. The idea was simple: form an organization to represent the collective interests of the helicopter industry. Today, we know this long-standing group as HAI, which has embraced the technological revolution within the vertical lift industry.

Our industry has consistently demonstrated its ability to accept new types of aircraft and successfully integrate them into the shared airspace. This integration hasn’t been without tragedy, however. In 1931, popular University of Notre Dame football coach Knute Rockne was killed in an airplane crash, eliciting public calls for greater federal oversight of aviation manufacturing, operations, and safety that led to the regulatory structure in US aviation today.

Modern aviation still reflects a delicate balance between operational ingenuity and regulatory governance. Vertical lift aircraft manufacturers and developers of the supporting infrastructure in the UAS and eVTOL markets are outpacing the regulators. Although the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 put in place directives to the FAA for UAS integration, the ability to safely accomplish that integration remains the FAA’s primary concern.

Questions remain about exactly what the future will look like. But ours is an industry in which problem-solving is just another day on the job, and we’ve demonstrated tremendous resilience to survive for generations. It’s time for the helicopter industry to embrace new-technology vertical flight aircraft as we share a common interest: a safe, effective, and robust industry.

As the economy recovers from COVID-19, vertical flight operators will begin working their way back to prosperity as they have for decades, identifying new ways to use their aircraft to improve the lives of the general public. Without recognition or fanfare, the job gets done, safely.

Whether you operate helicopters or drones or plan to engage in VTOL technology, you’re part of the vertical lift family. Our industry may look a little different from the past, but the people are the same—simply remarkable! 

Read More: Vertical Readers Cite HAI for Pandemic Assistance to Industry
November 16, 2020

HAI’s efforts to support and inform the vertical flight industry throughout the COVID-19 pandemic received recognition in a recent survey by Vertical magazine, a leading publication in the rotorcraft community.

Conducted in September 2020 by independent research firm PMG Intelligence, the survey focused on the effects of COVID-19 on the industry. One question inquired whether “industry associations have been helpful in providing information about resources that are available to you during the pandemic.” 

Respondents were asked to name the associations that have been most helpful to their company.

“Of those associations, HAI was mentioned most often,” reports Elan Head, editorial director of the magazine.

“We’re grateful that our work has been helpful to those in the industry who’ve been affected by the pandemic,” says James Viola, president and CEO of HAI.

“Businesses have been so hurt by this pandemic and the economic disruption it’s caused—75% of the respondents to Vertical’s survey said their business has decreased, and 50% have had to lay off staff. I sincerely hope the work HAI has done has helped some of these companies or individuals find relief.”

Since the spring, HAI’s staff have dedicated much of their time to distributing information or working with governments to find ways to assist the rotorcraft community. The HAI Member Services Department has advocated for the rotorcraft industry before civil aviation authorities around the world, helping to create compliance solutions on behalf of individuals and companies.

HAI’s Government Affairs team has worked with US lawmakers to ensure that the vertical flight industry is included in financial assistance programs. Staff from many of the association’s departments have worked to collect and compile information from operators, rotorcraft trade groups, and government agencies worldwide to post on HAI’s website as a helpful resource.

HAI also this year developed a weekly webinar series, HAI@Work. The initial goal of the program was to provide the rotorcraft community with up-to-date information about the pandemic in a rapidly changing legislative and regulatory landscape, but the webinars now cover other topics of interest to the industry as well. More than 4,300 attendees from over 50 countries have viewed the webinars live, and videos of them have been viewed more than 4,500 times.

“Another statistic from Vertical’s survey that stands out to me is that 53% of their respondents indicated that COVID-19 has prompted changes to their business model,” adds Viola. “The VTOL industry is wonderfully adaptable, and these figures tell me that rotorcraft companies are doing their best to remain flexible and accommodating during the pandemic.”

Viola believes that the rotorcraft industry, with its ability to tackle a diverse set of missions for customers worldwide, is resilient.

“In the long run, it’s this versatility that will help the rotorcraft industry rebound. We know we’re headed into a seasonal slowdown in the Northern Hemisphere, but we experienced a mostly positive summer season in firefighting and agricultural work this year,” Viola told Vertical. 

“Many of those operators are ready to begin their off-season cycle of training and maintenance and are otherwise preparing for next year’s operations. Work is already starting to pick up in areas of the Southern Hemisphere, and a few firefighting operators are shifting aircraft to the other side of the equator,” Viola continued.

It is this ability to adapt, says Viola, that is key to the industry’s long-term future.

“Even as we wait out this pandemic, our industry has continued to evolve,” he added. “Our OEMs are actively developing advanced air mobility and remotely piloted aircraft, working their way through testing and proof-of-concept phases. Our pilots have decades of experience working in the low-altitude, confined-area airspace. The rotorcraft community—manufacturers, operators, pilots, and maintenance—is ideally positioned to build, operate, fix, and fly these aircraft.

“All in all, I’m feeling optimistic for our industry because of our history of adaptation and versatility,” Viola continued. 

“While it may feel that this pandemic will never end, there is, in fact, a light at the end of the tunnel. When that happens (and it will), I want our members to be primed for success and ready to go fly,” he noted.

Read More: FlyOver
November 16, 2020

Detroit, Michigan | Feb. 28, 2020
US Customs and Border Protection
Air and Marine Operations | Sikorsky UH-60A
 PIC: Air Interdiction Agent Dave Loyd 
SIC: Supervisory Air Interdiction Agent Dan Houting
Public Affairs Officer: Kris Grogan
Air Enforcement Agent: Max McFadden
US Border Patrol Supplemental Air crew: Aaron Quain

Photo by Mark Bennett

Read More: Meet Ann Protheroe
November 16, 2020

Ann Protheroe
Air Evac Lifeteam
Maryville, Illinois

I’m a base mechanic for Air Evac Lifeteam, responsible for maintaining a medical-transport Bell 206 L4. I also travel to assist other base mechanics or cover for them when they’re off duty.

US Marine Corps intermediate-level jet engine mechanic for the T400 and T700 engines for the Bell UH-1N and AH-1W.

The UH-1 Huey. I just love the sound of the blades as they chop through the air.

Read More: Ensure Fuel Purity with Soak Testing
November 16, 2020

The performance and safety of your aircraft depend on this procedure.

At my firm, Aviation Marketing Services, we’re often asked about soak testing, which is used to verify the purity of aviation fuel.

If you’re responsible for—or depend on—fuel in your work, you likely know how important it is to perform a soak test after completing new construction or major repairs to tanks or piping. This applies to both fuel storage systems and servicing vehicles. Afterward, a laboratory evaluation of the fuel samples used in the soak test can detect any potential contaminants—from solvents used in coatings and linings, welding flux, preservative oils (corrosion inhibitors), valve grease, and other debris—that could compromise the performance and safety of the fuel.

Because soak testing is such an important step in purchasing fuel, any acquisition or modification contracts for new fuel systems or servicing vehicles should include a clause that requires the manufacturer or contractor to provide evidence that a proper soak test has been performed. The clause should also require that the test results verify the fuel meets the appropriate ASTM International specifications.

Let’s review how to conduct a soak test and the various lab tests involved.

Fuel Systems, Storage Tanks, and Related Equipment

A soak test consists of filling a fuel system (stainless steel, aluminum, epoxy lined, or rubber bladder) with an adequate volume of the appropriate-grade fuel and, after following the recommended recirculation procedures, allowing it to soak for a period of time recommended by ASTM or the specific fuel supplier. Before putting the fuel in the system, be sure to retain a sample to serve as a control batch should testing reveal ­off-specification product.

By following the stringent requirements of Energy Institute (EI) Standard 1541, Requirements for Internal Protective Coating Systems Used in Aviation Fuel Handling Systems, you’ll dramatically reduce the risk of fuel contamination. Adherence to this industry standard ensures that the proper coating materials were correctly applied and allowed to fully cure as recommended by the manufacturer, and that storage tanks (including piping, pumps, valves, meters, filter vessels, and so on) are filled to the normal level and the fuel recirculated completely at least once and allowed to soak for a minimum of four days and a maximum of seven.

At the end of the designated soak period, obtain a 1 gallon sample from the new or repaired system and send it off for laboratory evaluation. The best location from which to obtain a sample is the low-point drain. Remember to displace an adequate volume in the sampling piping to ensure a truly representative sample of the tank bottom.

Fuel-Servicing Vehicles and Hoses

All fuel-servicing vehicles with tanks and piping made of aluminum or stainless steel should have the appropriate fuel circulated throughout the system. Fueling vehicles (whether new, repaired, or those that have undergone an extended period out of service) should be filled to the normal level and the fuel recirculated completely at least once and allowed to soak for at least an hour. You may obtain 1 gallon representative samples of fuel from any combination of multiple low-point drains and combine them into a single sample.

For proper soak testing, every fueler loading hose and every aircraft fueling hose must meet industry standard EI 1529/IOS (International Organization for Standardization) 1825 for hoses and assemblies. The hose must initially be filled completely with the appropriate fuel and allowed to soak for at least eight hours. The fuel in the hose must then be disposed of properly and the hose refilled.

To verify the absence of any manufacturing residue, you must perform an appearance check of the fuel for discoloration. The fuel should then be recirculated in an amount equaling at least twice the volume of the hose, back into storage, upstream of filtration. Follow up with a hose-end nozzle strainer inspection to confirm the absence of any particulate contamination.

Lab Testing of Avgas and Jet Fuels

In the case of avgas 100LL (aviation gasoline 100 low lead), the critical aspects of contamination are interfacial tension (how well water separates out from the fuel) and gum contamination, which leads to engine anomalies. The tests that should be performed on avgas 100LL are:

  • ASTM D4176, appearance
  • ASTM D381, gum content
  • ASTM D1094, water reaction
  • ASTM D2887, simulated distillation (this test is more sensitive to residue and chemical contamination than the standard test for distillation, ASTM D86).
    The tests for aviation turbine fuels (also known as jet fuels) are the same as those for avgas 100LL, with the addition of the following:
  • ASTM D156, Saybolt color test
  • ASTM D3948, MSEP (microseparometer analysis, for water separation)
  • ASTM D2624, electrical conductivity
  • ASTM D3241, jet fuel thermal oxidation test (JFTOT)
  • ASTM D56, flash point.

The JFTOT is notable because it reveals any change in volatility along with oxidation characteristics and evaluates insoluble and soluble materials that form deposits in the engine.

Correct Sampling

Fuel sample preparation, handling, and ­follow-through are all key to successfully testing aviation fuel. If a jet fuel sample is drawn through sample points that incorporate metals such as cadmium, brass, or copper, the JFTOT results may fail. Similarly, using galvanized piping (zinc) in avgas 100LL could alter the lab results.

Finally, make sure the sampling point is clean and flushed before taking a sample. Accumulated solid particulate matter or any free water should be removed, and final fuel samples should be clear and bright. Use a 1 gallon, approved epoxy-lined sampling container, and flush and triple-rinse it with the fuel to be sampled and tested. 

Read More: Recent Accidents & Incidents
November 15, 2020

The rotorcraft accidents and incidents listed below occurred from Jul. 1 to Sep. 30, 2020. The accident details shown are ­preliminary ­information, subject to change, and may contain ­errors. All ­information was obtained through the official websites included below, where you can learn more details about each event.

Australia – Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB):

Britain – Air Accident Investigation Branch (AAIB):

Canada – Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSBC):

New Zealand – Transport Accident Investigation Commission of New Zealand (TAIC):

United States – National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB):

Read More: The Civil Industry Responds: One Team’s Story
November 15, 2020

Two pilots and a mechanic discover “what they could do” to help a devastated city.

As American Eurocopter (now Airbus Helicopters North America) pilots Bruce Webb and Frank Kanauka approached New Orleans early in the afternoon of Aug. 29, 2005, they fully expected to encounter a bit of chaos.

The two pilots, along with mechanic Bob Hernandez, had been dispatched by then–American Eurocopter President Marc Paganini with two helicopters, some cash (they assumed, correctly, that the devastated city would be off the grid and unable to process credit cards), and orders to “see what they could do” to help after what was then the worst hurricane in US history. But nothing could have prepared them for the next week.

“They didn’t know what to do with us,” Webb recalls, when he and Kanauka arrived. The two had landed their aircraft at the Superdome, and Webb had gone in search of the person in charge of the powerless (and therefore dark, hot, and ridiculously humid) indoor stadium holding tens of thousands of storm refugees.

Finally, Webb found the person in charge: a general (Webb never found out his name or service branch), who asked him, “Who are you working for?” To which Webb could only reply, “I guess you.” And so, for the next seven days Webb and his small EC120 and Kanauka, flying a larger EC135, volunteered as first responders.

At first, they and Hernandez, who came along to care for their aircraft and to manage logistics, formed one of the few civilian helicopter teams in the storm zone. But by the time the trio headed back to their Texas headquarters (leaving their helicopters behind to be flown by replacement teams), more than 400 helicopters, including more than 50 operated by civilian companies and individuals, were filling the skies over the 200-mile-wide storm zone. 

“The No. 1 thing I remember was Omaha 44 and Omaha 45. If you ask someone if they were flying at Katrina, and those words don’t mean something to them, then they weren’t there,” Webb says.

“Omaha 44 and Omaha 45 were the military aircraft that controlled your ability to enter the game, so to speak,” Webb explains. FAA operations were effectively offline for a couple of weeks, so early on after the storm passed, two military planes assumed overwatch duties, doing their best to control access to the skies over New Orleans and to keep the 600 or more helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft supporting the relief efforts from bumping into one another.

On their way into New Orleans, Webb says, “Frank and I topped off at Houma,” a New Orleans suburb just across the Mississippi River, where they also left Hernandez to find a place for them to stay and to set up a makeshift helicopter support operation at the local municipal airport. Once they started working for the general, they both began shuttling refugees with medical issues northwest to the campus of Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, where a medical triage unit had been set up.

Read More: Helicopter Events
November 15, 2020


HAI Virtual Aerial Firefighting Conference
Helicopter Association International
Learn more at

NOV. 26
Young Eagle Build and Fly Program
Experimental Aircraft Association
Hilo, Hawaii, USA
Learn more at

NBAA GO Virtual Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (VBACE)
National Business Aviation Association
Learn more at

European Rotors: The VTOL Show and Safety Conference
General Aviation Manufacturers Association
Learn more at