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The Vertical Flight Society, the world’s leading non-profit organization working to advance vertical flight, has announced several initiatives that expand its support to the growing field of electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aviation. This expansion includes new personnel, eVTOL workshops and partnerships, and eVTOL educational resources.
Electric/hybrid-electric propulsion enables new vertical flight aircraft configurations that have tremendous potential — but also significant challenges — to bring a radical transformation of air transportation for unmanned package delivery, unmanned logistics, personal air travel, air taxis, urban air mobility (UAM), regional air mobility (RAM), and many other missions.
“The Vertical Flight Society is a recognized leader in what we see as ‘The Electric VTOL Revolution,'” said VFS executive director Mike Hirschberg. “The Society now has more than 70 corporate member companies working on eVTOL developments and was the first global technical society to embrace the potential of eVTOL with its full support.” In fact, corporate membership has grown by more than 10 percent a year for the past four years to 120 members, and the Society now has nearly 6,000 individual members.
New staff added
VFS has welcomed James Sherman as the Society’s director of strategic development, responsible for setting and executing the Society’s strategy for promoting membership development and growth. Sherman in particular is responsible for supporting the development of “The Electric VTOL Revolution” and expanding the Society’s membership in this fast-growing market segment.
Sherman previously worked for SAE International for more than eight years as the lead event developer for aerospace and automotive technology, including joint conferences with VFS, as well as many other strategic programs that coordinated SAE Aerospace activities.
“We are very pleased to have Jim join the team. His unique background will strengthen VFS and our support to the eVTOL community,” said Hirschberg.
Prior to SAE, Sherman worked at BAE Systems for 15 years as a project engineer leading programs targeted at military ground vehicle power systems, including hybrid-electric. As an individual contributor earlier in his career, he developed flight and engine controls, and systems/software test protocols for the military aircraft and engine systems. Sherman holds a BS in electrical engineering from Penn State University, as well as an MS in electrical engineering and an MBA from Binghamton University.
In January, Rex Alexander, president of Five-Alpha LLC, also joined the Vertical Flight Society as the advisor for VTOL infrastructure. Alexander has more than 35 years of experience as a civil, military and air ambulance helicopter pilot/mechanic and VTOL infrastructure advisor.
New eVTOL aircraft workshops
VFS held the world’s first workshop on “Transformative Vertical Flight” electric aircraft in 2014, and is planning its seventh Annual Electric VTOL Symposium in San Jose, California, Jan. 21 to 23, 2020 (www.vtol.org/evtol2020) — this is the world’s largest and longest-running technical event focusing on the incredible promise, progress and challenges of eVTOL aircraft.
VFS will be offering its first dedicated workshop on eVTOL Defining Challenges, Sept. 10 to 12, 2019, in the Washington, DC, area (www.vtol.org/dc). Covering air vehicle design for certification, infrastructure and airspace management, this will be the first in a new series of workshops on the defining challenges of electric VTOL developments.
The Vertical Flight Society has also announced it has now partnered with the highly-respected Comparative Aircraft Flight Efficiency (CAFE) Foundation to support its 13th annual Electric Aircraft Symposium (EAS), to be held at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, July 20 to 21, 2019, just prior to the Experimental Aircraft Association’s AirVenture Oshkosh.
“CAFE Foundation has been leading electric aircraft developments — originally focused on electric conventional takeoff and landing (eCTOL) applications — and hosting its annual Electric Aircraft Symposium since 2007,” Hirschberg stated. “The Vertical Flight Society is pleased to partner with CAFE Foundation to expand our mutual goal of educating and supporting the growth of electric aviation.”
Leading eVTOL resources
VFS was founded by the helicopter industry’s pioneers more than 75 years ago to spearhead industry-wide technical collaboration and accelerate the advancement of vertical flight aircraft. The Society’s Vertiflite magazine began covering eVTOL developments since the earliest projects in 2012.
The Society initiated The Electric VTOL News newsletter in 2016, and its website, www.eVTOL.news, in 2017. In addition to some 200 eVTOL articles, the website contains the comprehensive “World eVTOL Aircraft Directory,” which now catalogs more than 175 eVTOL aircraft design concepts and includes a timeline of developments, a global map of developers, and other unique resources.
As an educational technical professional society, VFS held the world’s first eVTOL technical short course in 2018 and has now five separate eVTOL-related courses — including in aeromechanics and acoustic modeling — available as video-on-demand classes (totaling 30 hours), plus more than 100 hours of complimentary online videos of eVTOL/UAM lectures and workshops by world leading experts.