Autonomous VTOL Technical Meeting & eVTOL Symposium 2019

Mesa 2019 VTOL Meeting Banner

8th Biennial Autonomous VTOL Technical Meeting & 6th Annual Electric VTOL Symposium
Sheraton Mesa Hotel at Wrigleyville West (reservations)
Mesa, Arizona, USA

Thank you to our sponsors and exhibitors: Bell, Continuum Dynamics, Gannett Fleming, Honeywell,
Karem Aircraft, NEXA Capital, Pi Innovo, Sentient Science, Terrafugia, Thales and XTI Aircraft!

  • Short Course on eVTOL Design: Mon, Jan. 28
  • Technical Meeting & Symposium: Tues-Thur, Jan. 29-31
  • Short Course on eVTOL Acoustics: Thurs/Fri Jan. 31-Feb. 1

Registration now open!


The 21st century has seen a continued emphasis on Unmanned Air Systems (UAS) and greater autonomy and automation for both military and civilian applications. Unmanned vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft are in varying stages of development all over the world, and continue to expand into the civil and military sectors for a variety of uses. Autonomy is being used to unmanned versions of manned helicopters for dull, dirty and dangerous military cargo missions. In addition, the operator-interface and human factors can be one of the most significant contributions to UAS safety and successful operations. Correspondingly, technologies and regulation are being developed to safely operate UAS, and integrate them into commercial and military airspace.

Meanwhile, automation and various levels of autonomy are being used in modern civil helicopter cockpits, while the military’s Future Vertical Lift (FVL) aircraft will need to be optionally-manned or optimally-manned. Autonomy is also a key enabler for new classes of vehicles for civil missions — such as personal air vehicles, urban air mobility and air taxi missions — using electric or hybrid-electric propulsion (eVTOL).

This biennial meeting is an excellent opportunity to learn about and discuss with academic, industry, and military engineers from around the world the latest advancements in manned/unmanned, electric/hybrid/turboshaft-powered, and civil/military autonomous VTOL aircraft technology.

The Technical Meeting is being held in conjunction with the 6th Annual Electric VTOL Symposium, which will be held in parallel. The conference will feature technical paper presentation related to autonomous VTOL aircraft, while the Symposium will feature invited presentations, panel sessions and discussions on electric and hybrid electric VTOL aircraft, with a focus on urban air mobility.

Overall event schedule

Technical Papers

List of accepted technical paper abstracts

Authors have been notified of final selection and the final paper presentation schedule is being finalized. No paper will be scheduled for presentation if a written paper has not been received by Jan. 14, 2019. It will be author’s responsibility to obtain all necessary clearances or releases. For paper questions contact Dr. Ram JankiRam (+1-480-891-6057), Technical Chair, or Dr. Kendra Befort (+1-480-891-1979), Deputy Technical Chair, or email

Invited Presentations (Subject to Change)

Banquet Keynote: "Autonomy at Bell," Michael Thacker, Executive VP for Technology & Innovation, Bell

Plenary Presentations: Needs for Future Autonomous VTOL Aircraft

Moderator: Dr. Ram JanakiRam, Boeing
  • “Autonomy for Next Generation VTOL Systems,” Dr. Bill Lewis, Aviation Development Director, US Army
  • Mark Jordan, Boeing Autonomous Systems
  • “The Electric VTOL Revolution,” Mike Hirschberg, Vertical Flight Society
  • “Army VTOL UAS Development Efforts,” LTC Mike Osmon, US Army, Aviation Advanced Development, Aviation & Mission Research, Development and Engineering Command (AMRDEC)
  • “Agility, Cyber and Emerging Technologies for Naval UAS,” Robert Ernst, NAVAIR PMA-266 
  • "Needs for the Uber Elevate Ecosystem,“ Mark Moore, Uber

eVTOL Session 1: Progress in Electric VTOL 

Moderator: Mike Hirschberg, Vertical Flight Society
  • Bob Labelle, CEO, XTI Aircraft
  • Zach Lovering, Vahana Project Executive, A³ by Airbus
  • Ben Tigner, President, Karem Aircraft
  • Troy Rutherford, Senior Director for eVTOL, Boeing NeXt

eVTOL Session 2: Challenges in Electric VTOL

Moderator: Chris Silva, NASA
  • "Observations from Exploration of VTOL Urban Air Mobility Designs," Chris Silva, NASA Ames
  • "UAM Propulsion," Dr. Paula Dempsey, NASA Glenn
  • "Distributed Electric Propulsion (DEP) Failure Modes," Patrick Darmstadt, Boeing
  • "Gust Rejection," Nick Brake, ES Aero
  • "VTOL Flight Control for Safety," Justin Paines, Chief Test Pilot, Joby Aviation

eVTOL Session 3: System Safety

Moderator: Dan Newman, Boeing
  • Chris van Buiten, VP Innovations, Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin Company
  • Starr Ginn, Deputy Aeronautics Research Director, NASA Armstrong
  • Kyle Heironimus, Innovation Engineer, Bell
  • Ife Ogunleye, Acting Manager, Policy and Regulation Section, FAA
  • Clément Audard, Rotorcraft Safety Coordinator, European Aviation Safety Agency

eVTOL Session 4: Standards/Regulations 

Moderator: Tom Gunnarson, Lead of Regulatory Affairs, Kitty Hawk
  • Tom Gunnarson, Lead of Regulatory Affairs, Kitty Hawk
  • Anna Dietrich, Co-Founder, Terrafugia
  • Greg Bowles, VP, Global Innovation & Policy, GAMA
  • Andy Supinie, Aircraft Certification Office, FAA

eVTOL Session 5: Vehicle Technologies

Moderator: Johnny Doo, International Vehicle Research
  • “Hybrid Electric Propulsion System Advantages And Disadvantages Compared To All Electric Propulsion And All Traditional Engine-Driven Propulsion,” Eric Blumer, Director of Advanced Technologies, Honeywell
  • "New Lithium Sulfur Battery Development," Warren “Bum” Rapp, Nextech Batteries
  • “Development and Demonstration of an Autonomous Optical Launch and Recovery System,” Avinash Gandhe, SSCI 
  • Dr. Amine Chigani, CTO & VP Engineering, Sentient Science

eVTOL Session 6: eVTOL Missions and Applications

Moderator: Michael Dudley, NASA Ames
  • Michael Dudley, NASA Ames: eVTOL Roadmapping
  • Candice Carter: Group 2 – Intracity Missions
  • Seren Webber: Group 3 – Intercity Missions
  • Johnny Doo, IVR: Group 4 – Public Service Missions

eVTOL Session 7: eVTOL Opportunities

Moderator: Mike Hirschberg, Vertical Flight Society
  • “A Review of Current Technology and Research in Urban On-Demand Air Mobility Applications,” Nicholas Polaczyk and Enzo Trombino, Iowa State University
  • "Enabling Urban Air Mobility (UAM) and eVTOL Operations," Steve Jacobson, Autonodyne
  • "A Venture Capitalist's Perspective on eVTOL," Peter Shannon, Levitate Capital
  • Carl Dietrich, Co-Founder/CTO, Terrafugia
  • Francesco Giannini, Aurora Flight Sciences

eVTOL Session 8: Infrastructure/Passenger Experience

Moderator: Michael Dyment, Managing Partner, NEXA Advisors
  • "Vertiport Design," Mark Pilwallis, Gannett Fleming
  • "Air Vehicle Factors Affecting Occupant Health, Comfort, and Productivity," Bernard D. Adelstein, NASA Ames Research Center
  • "eVTOL Noise Considerations, Dr. Ken Brentner, Penn State University

eVTOL Session 9: Autonomy and Air Operations

Moderator: Bruce Holmes, SmartSky Networks
  • "NASA UTM," Parimal Kopardekar, NASA
  • "NASA UAM Grand Challenge," Davis Heckenberg, NASA
  • “Collaborative Autonomy for VTOL Operations,” Bimal Aponso, Associate Division Chief for Aeronautics, Intelligent Systems Division, NASA Ames Research Center
  • “Achieving Reliable Autonomy,” Dr. Eric Johnson, Penn State University 
  • Frank Matus, Director, Digital Aviation Market Development – Americas, Thales 

eVTOL Session 10: eVTOL for Good

Moderator: Johnny Doo, International Vehicle Research
  • "Distributed On-Demand TVF Search & Rescue & Disaster Relief Network," Johnny Doo, IVR
  • "eVTOL for Search & Rescue," Eddie Bennet, The Ripper Group, Australia
  • "eVTOL applications for Fire Fighting," Michael Ralston, Menlo Fire District, California
  • "Traffic Management and Drones/eVTOL for Good," Jessie Mooberry, A³ by Airbus
  • "A Unique eVTOL Concept and Applications," Arnaud Didey, Neoptera

Registration: Online registration now open! (Or, your can download the 2019 Autonomous eVTOL AZ Registration Form.) You do not need to be a member to register, but you do need to create an account if you don't already have one. 

Autonomous VTOL Meeting & eVTOL Symposium Tues. Jan. 29 – Thurs. Jan. 31
Registration Rates* VFS Member Non-Member**
VFS Student Member
Early Bird Rate (by Dec. 10, 2018) $575 $675 $325
Regular Rate (after Dec. 10, 2018) $675 $775 $350
*Registration fee includes coffee breaks, lunches, dinner on Wednesday, and Proceedings.
**Includes 1-year membership.
eVTOL Design Short Course: Monday, Jan. 28 (8:00am - 5:00pm)
Regular Attendee $275
VFS Student Members (must be VFS student member) $175
eVTOL Aeromechanics & Acoustics Prediction Software Short Course: Thurs. Jan. 31 (1:00pm - 5:00pm) – Fri. Feb. 1 (8:00am - 5:00pm)
All Attendees $450

Short Courses: 

  • A 1-day Short Course on Electric VTOL Design will be taught onsite on Monday, Jan. 28 (8 am - 5 pm), the day before the conference and symposium begins. The course will be taught by Dr. James Wang, one of the leading figures in electric VTOL aircraft development. The cost of the course is $275 ($175 for current student members of VFS). Download the course description and register for this insightful course!
  • A 1½ day Short Course on Electric VTOL Aeromechanics & Acoustic Prediction Software will be taught onsite Thursday afternoon, Jan. 31 (1 pm - 5 pm) and all day Friday, Feb 1 (8 am - 5 pm). The course will be taught by Dr. Ken Brentner (Penn State), Dan Wachspress (Continuum Dynamics), Dr. Rob McDonald (Uber Elevate) and Alex Gary (Uber Elevate) and will instruct attendees on how to use PSU-WOPWOP, CDI's CHARM and NASA's OpenVSP modeling tools to conduct acoustic prediction of Electric VTOL configurations. The cost of the course is $450 for all attendees. Download the course description and register for this groundbreaking course!

Hotel: The meeting is being held at the beautiful Sheraton Mesa Hotel at Wrigleyville West in Mesa with discounted rates available to attendees. Please support the event and stay at the conference hotel! You must book by Jan. 14 and use this link to get the special event rate:

Sponsorships & Exhibits: A limited number of sponsorship and exhibit opportunities are available to help our corporate members get their message out about their work in autonomy and electric VTOL. Opportunities range from $1,000 to $5,000 and include complimentary registrations. Please help support this event!

Platinum-Level Sponsors
Bell 2018 Logo Karem logo Nexa Logo Terrafugia Logo 2018 (png)
Gold-Level Sponsors
  Gannett Fleming logo (400 px) png Honeywell logo (300x138 px) png  
CDI logo
Updated 2018-12-04 

For more information about Autonomous VTOL Technical Meeting & eVTOL Symposium 2019, please contact us.

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