The Vertical Flight Society at Work

US Capitol Building

VFS works to affect change to advance the state-of-the-art of vertical flight technology and create recognition of the benefits of vertical flight. VFS leads advocacy efforts to Capitol Hill, the Pentagon, FAA and the public. We are leading efforts to educate the public and decision makers through our outreach to the media and Members of Congress

We have a proud legacy of work in support of the advancement of rotorcraft. 

  • For Fiscal Year 2015, VFS successfully worked to get $14M of additional Congressional funding for Future Vertical Lift (FVL), as well as additional funding for NASA rotorcraft (see press release).
  • For Fiscal Year 2016, VFS was successful in getting Congress to add $10M for FVL (see news release).
  • For Fiscal Year 2017, VFS was succesful in getting Congress to add $11M for FVL and has gained broad support for the program on Capitol Hill.  
  • For Fiscal Year 2018, VFS was successful in getting Congress to add $15M for FVL.
  • For Fiscal Year 2019, VFS was successful in getting Congress to add $20M for FVL, and facilitated the addition of additional funds for FVL FARA and other rotorcraft research investments.
  • For Fiscal Year 2020, VFS was successful in highlighting the incredible importance in investing in advanced technologies for FVL. Congress supported FVL with additional funds and we were able to largely ameliorate a cut to the FARA program.  
  • Now, every year, VFS continues working to highlight the incredible importance in investing in advanced vertical flight, including FVL, advanced air mobility (AAM) and education. 

You can get involved, too! Contact your elected representatives and urge them to support research and development of advanced vertical flight technologies. 

Key Advocacy Activities
  • Promoting research and development investments: Investing in future technologies is essential to advancing the state of the art of vertical flight.
  • Supporting the future vertical workforce: the Society has a long legacy of promoting education through scholarships, student design competitions and many other opportunities. VFS works actively to train and expand the workforce, including by supporting inclusivity, diversity, equity and accessibility (IDEA).
  • Safe adoption of electric VTOL/advanced air mobility: VFS has been leading efforts in battery-electric, hybrid-electric and hydrogen-electric VTOL aircraft for uncrewed, piloted and autonomous flight for safe and efficient movement of people and goods. 
  • Promoting safety: VFS has led safety efforts that resulted in the formation of the International Helicopter Safety Team (IHST) in 2006 — now expanded into the Vertical Aviation Safety Team (VAST) — with the ultimate goal of working towards zero accidents.  
  • Reducing noise and noise complaints: VFS kicked off a noise initiative to study helicopter noise generation, reception and perception.

Vertiflite Commentaries

Angelo Collins

Read recent Vertiflite Commentary articles from the Vertical Flight Society's new Executive Director Angelo Collins on critical issues facing industry, academia and government:
  • May-June 2024: The Evolving VTOL Workforce “The Vertical Flight Society leads advocacy efforts to advance vertical flight, bringing together members from industry, academia and government to tackle the toughest challenges. In this role, it is our responsibility to sound the alarm: the vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) aircraft workforce is at a critical juncture."
  • March-April 2024: The Resurgence of our Local Chapters “It is safe to say that the Vertical Flight Society’s regional chapter activities have been surging in the post–COVID-19 era. As you would expect, positive momentum slowed in 2020, with dinner meetings and in-person events becoming a fond but distant memory of days before. To combat the waning participation of our chapters, many executed a mix of virtual content and outdoor events, with a slow ramp up of in-person events starting in 2022. Understandably, some chapters saw little to no activity during this period. Thankfully, we saw a great resurgence in activity starting in 2023, with the momentum continuing into 2024."
  • January-February 2024: Standing on the Shoulder of Giants — A Look at our Past Executive Directors “Many of our members have fond memories of Mike Hirschberg and Rhett Flater’s tenures as Executive Director of the Vertical Flight Society, but their recollection ends there. A total of six Executive Directors served prior to my tenure, all with their unique stories and accomplishments. Their hard work and dedication contributed to the Society’s growth and success, and I will use this commentary to share some historical facts you may not know."
  • November-December 2023: A Vision for the Future of the Vertical Flight Society “VFS is doing a lot of things right, and we have been able to thrive and grow over the last decade. A priority of mine in the role of Executive Director is to manage the “business” of VFS, with the staff and our processes at its core. Only when you’re able to take care of yourself can you take care of others."
  • September-October 2023: AAM: Once Impossible, Now Undeniable “VFS has been a champion for electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) technology — now grouped under the more generic moniker of advanced air mobility (AAM) — for more than a decade, with numerous events, short courses, articles and technical content produced for our members and the public."
  • July-August 2023: Meet the Team — A Look at Our Staff “With tenures averaging more than 12 years, you are more likely to see a change in the US presidency than a change of VFS Executive Directors. Although it is a rare occurrence, it comes with renewed energy, but the same passion for advancing vertical lift. Rest assured that I will continue to work closely with the incumbent staff to ensure a smooth transition."

Mike Hirschberg

Read recent Vertiflite Commentary articles from the Vertical Flight Society's then Executive Director Mike Hirschberg on critical issues facing industry, academia and government:
  • May-June 2023: The Forum for Advancing Vertical Flight “The Vertical Flight Society is now celebrating 80 years since it was founded on Feb. 25, 1943. It has been an incredible honor serving as sixth VFS Executive Director, and it's been extraordinarily rewarding to be a VFS member for the past 27 years — one-third of the existence of the Society."
  • Mar-Apr 2023: Lilienthal Was Wrong “German aviation pioneer Otto Lilienthal said, “Designing a flying machine is nothing; Building it is something; Testing it is everything.”* I have used this quote for years to explain the state of electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft."
  • Jan-Feb 2023: Transitions: From 2011 to 2023 “At 5:15 pm EST on Monday, Dec. 5, the US Army announced the long-awaited Future Long Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA) contract award to Bell Textron for its V-280 Valor tiltrotor."
  • Nov-Dec 2022: The FLRAA Decision is a Turning Point “In November, the US Army is expected to announce the long-awaited decision on the Future Long Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA) competition. The result of 14 years of studies, demonstrations and government reviews, this selection will have profound impacts on the two competing teams, the Army and America’s allies."
  • Sept-Oct 2022: An Uplifting Community “Whereas associations and other groups talk about the “helicopter industry” and the “vertical lift industry,” the Vertical Flight Society — a technical, educational non-profit — is here for the “vertical flight community.” We are not a trade association or a business league. We are the community of individuals, universities, companies and other organizations focused on the mission of advancing vertical flight."
  • Jul-Aug 2022: FAA Changes Course on eVTOL Certification “On Monday, May 9 (the eve of the VFS Forum 78), The Air Current broke the story that the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) had decided that winged electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft that met the FAA’s definition of “powered-lift”— a term used nearly exclusively for pilot qualification rules — could not be certified or operate as “airplanes.”"
  • May-June 2022: An Expanded View of Electric Flight “From a technology and regulatory perspective, the expertise, domain knowledge and leadership that VFS has developed since 2013 is broadly applicable to all forms of 'small' electric aircraft. Much of the Society’s growth over the past decade is due to the pull from our members into eVTOL and other types of electric aircraft."
  • Mar-Apr 2022: FVL — The Affordable Solution “With the start of the new year, the pressure of two unexpected crises gripped Washington — record inflation and unchecked Russian aggression against Ukraine. Simultaneously, the two US Army Future Vertical Lift (FVL) programs — the Future Long Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA) and the Future Armed Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA) — continued to make impressive progress towards their goals. FVL is a smart investment ready to deliver game-changing capability for warfighters with room for future improvements, without breaking the budget."
  • Jan-Feb 2022: Workforce: Diversity, Inclusion and Equity Too “VFS has published several commentaries and reports on workforce and diversity (see, how we must attract more talent to vertical flight to meet the demand, and how being inclusive will help retain talent in our industry.... Not only do we need to address diversity and inclusion because of the business impacts, but because it’s also the right thing to do."
  • Nov-Dec 2021: The Need for FARA “The FARA program is currently building two competitive prototypes (CPs) that are arguably the most advanced and capable helicopters ever built... As industry continues to execute — as it has shown it is capable over the past decade of FVL developments — the Army will field a high-tech attack/reconnaissance rotorcraft in record time."
  • Sept-Oct 2021: Decision Time for FARA “The Army established its FARA acquisition plan to short-circuit and accelerate the traditional acquisition process. Now, the results of industry's bottom-up designs don't align with the top-down requirements. The Army must continue to be agile and use the information that has emerged from the FARA CP aircraft to update and refine its requirements for Increment 1."
  • Jul-Aug 2021: Workforce: Diversity Wins “Much has been said and debated about diversity, particularly in the US over the past year. While this is often wrapped up in discussions of discrimination and social justice — very important issues for society to tackle — this commentary is not about that. VFS is only a small cog in the epic wheels of the world’s civilizations and, while “we punch above our weight” and often have an outsized impact, we do that by applying our energies with a laser focus to specific issues where we see the potential to create a tipping point. Diversity in vertical flight is now exactly this issue."
  • May-June 2021: Workforce: Winning the War for Talent “We are now conducting a more detailed study to help the vertical flight community understand the problem and identify solutions. Importantly, we are also looking at how VFS can help support the needs of the future vertical workforce by promoting diversity through our new DiversiFLY initiative."
  • Mar-Apr 2021: Capitalizing on the Miraculous eVTOL Gold Rush “For the past two years, I have included a discussion about the “Five Key Challenges” of electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft in my public briefings. I initially referred to them (tongue in cheek) as “five simultaneous miracles” necessary to have urban air mobility (UAM) air taxi in service by the Uber Elevate goal of 2023."
  • Jan-Feb 2021: Uber's Legacy: Elevating the Electric VTOL Revolution “Four years of working with aircraft developers, tech companies, regulators, policy makers, standards developing organizations, investors and every other potential stakeholder has truly “fast forwarded” the realization of the Electric VTOL Revolution."
  • Nov-Dec 2020: Looking Back: A Vertical Retrospective on Electric VTOL “With the dawn of a new decade, we’ve been taking a look back at how things have changed since the beginning of the 21st Century. Like everything else, this series has now taken a new perspective given the impact of the COVID-19 global pandemic."
  • Sept-Oct 2020: Looking Back: A Perspective on the Annual Forum “The Annual Forum provides the premier venue for learning, networking and working together to advance vertical flight. This year is no different in its mission. As the vertical flight community has shown through its first three-quarters of a century, there are many, many challenges and obstacles to overcome. But overcome them we shall."
  • July-Aug 2020: Looking Back: A Perspective on the Future Vertical Workforce “The growing need for engineers to develop all of these next-generation military and civil vertical flight aircraft simultaneously is turning into a “war for talent” and the Defense Department will again be on the losing side of this potential crisis if actions aren’t taken. As many as 10,000 additional engineers will be needed in the next decade to meet the expected military and civil development programs."
  • May-June 2020: Looking Back: A Vertical Retrospective of COVID-19 “With the dawn of a new decade, we had been taking a look back at how things have changed since the beginning of the 21st Century. This series — like everything else — is being interrupted to give a short history and perspective of the impact of the global pandemic. A short history of the global spread of COVID-19 accompanies this article in the sidebar on the right hand side of this page.”
  • March-April 2020: Looking Back from 2020: A Vertical Retrospective of Rotorcraft Safety “With the dawn of a new decade, we're taking a look back at how things have changed since the beginning of the 21st Century, focusing on civil helicopter safety in this issue.”
  • Jan-Feb 2020: Looking Back from 2020: A Vertical Retrospective of 21st Century US Military Developments “With the dawn of a new decade, let’s take a look back at how things have changed since the beginning of the 21st Century, focusing on US military helicopter developments in this issue.”

Commentaries between 2011-2019 can be found at Past Vertiflite Commentaries.