Aviation airspace is looking toward the future of vertical takeoff and landing vehicles
Vertical takeoff and Landing (VTOL) vehicles (manned and unmanned) will soon be a big part of our aviation airspace, and it’s time to prepare. Everywhere I look these days, I see information about VTOL, and I can’t believe they are about to be a reality.
This year, the Vertical Aviation Safety Team (VAST) Global Conference will include VTOL vehicles for the first time; this is an excellent idea since the VTOL market is expected to grow by double digits between now and 2028.
VTOL are aircraft developed to depart, hover, or land vertically. There are two kinds of VTOL technology – powered lift and rotorcraft. A rotorcraft is a typical helicopter – it uses lift created by rotor blades that spin around a central mast. A powered-lift aircraft takes off and lands vertically but uses a fixed-wing design during cruise flight. The V-22 Osprey is a prime example, accomplishing the missions it was designed for, proving the VTOL concept is sound.
While there are VTOL aircraft that traditional pilots fly, the big news these days is the up-and-coming wave of uncrewed vehicles that are poised to be the mode of transportation for the future. Cities worldwide are already planning their vertiports, a platform for passengers to board their life-size uncrewed aerial vehicles so they can fly to wherever they need to go instead of driving in wall-to-wall traffic.
The FAA and other organizations are feeling the pressure to get up to speed on the safety side of VTOLs. Additionally, the 2022 VAST Conference will include the topic of VTOL aircraft for the first time.
Held in Hurst, TX, October 4-6, this year’s conference theme is “The New Era of Vertical Lift- Collaboration in Safety Culture.” The helicopter groups sponsoring the conference this year are VAST, Helicopter Association International, and the U.S. Helicopter Safety Team.
The event will offer presentations and panels addressing vertical lift safety issues to in-person and virtual attendees. In addition to discussing safety information, attendees can also use the conference to qualify for the FAA Inspection Authorization refresher course, AMT, and WINGS credits. The first day of the conference will include presentations for the entire helicopter and VTOL community, day two will offer tracks on specific safety elements for VTOL operations and maintenance, and the third day will provide global perspectives on safety, technology, vertiports, and more.
Registration is online at https://conference.vast.aero/ . There is no question that aviation airspace is evolving and will soon look much different than it does today. Safety conferences like this will do their part to ensure safety develops with the new technology.