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Feb
16
2024

Helicopter Industry Seismic Shift - Editor's Letter

Posted 64 days ago ago by Admin

For my entire 30-year working life, I have referred to my work as a pilot, helicopter operator, and media company owner as being in the “helicopter industry.” It’s pretty much all I have known.

However back in 2020, we saw a significant shift in the industry’s perspective of what the future might look like. It involved terms like “eVTOL,” “unmanned,” and “AAM” (advanced air mobility.) This shift came not only in the form of conversations, but rapidly morphed into actions by investors, regulators, and OEMs.

I remember asking several industry colleagues of stature if they thought this movement towards new platforms was real, or was it pie-in-the-sky futurecasting. The responses I got were 50/50.

“Accelerating change” is the observed exponential nature of the rate of recent technological change, which may suggest faster and more profound change in the future and may or may not be accompanied by equally profound social and cultural change.

Fast-forward a mere three years and observing the current landscape and I would like to suggest that accelerating change is occurring. I think if I were to ask that same question again, much less than 50% would feel the movement is pie-in-the-sky. We now have new platforms being certified by the FAA, and eVTOL aircraft being tested from New York City’s busiest heliports.

This movement has become so real in just a few years, the helicopter industry has begun rebranding to “vertical lift” in order to be more aligned with the new platforms. In fact, in 2022, we as a media publication followed suit when we changed from Rotorcraft Pro to Rotor Pro.

With HeliExpo 2024 upon us, I am both anxious and excited to see what developments are unveiled with respect to new platforms and technology. Will the topic dominate and be more embraced by traditional helicopter operators, or will it remain an enigma and be studied at a distance? Looking to the future, will the Helicopter Association International’s HeliExpo maintain that name? Or will it also decide to replace the word “Heli” to something more inclusive for this new frontier?

No matter what they call our industry’s largest trade show in the future, Team Rotor Pro will be at this year’s HeliExpo in Anaheim, California, and we would love for you to stop by Booth 3318 and say hello!

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