AHS Advocates on Behalf of Vertical Flight
National Defense, "Future Vertical Lift Takes Step Forward," April 2013
"The aircraft that we’ve been operating in Afghanistan and Iraq, they’re the best in the world ... [but] they had significant capability shortfalls in things like altitude performance, speed, range and cockpit awareness," said Mike Hirschberg, executive director of American Helicopter Society International. "We lost over 400 aircraft and over 600 Americans in accidents."
BBC Future, "Darpa X-plane to Radically Rethink Vertical Takeoff," February 28, 2013
Mike Hirschberg, executive director of the American Helicopter Society International, is also optimistic. A new X-plane program, like the one Darpa has started, offers a real opportunity – and money - to tackle an age-old problem, says Hirschberg, who previously served as a consultant to Darpa for over a decade.
AOL Defense, "Eurocopter's X3 Is Cool Enough For James Bond; But Helicopters Aren't On DoD's Shopping list," August 2, 2012
“There are incredibly promising technologies that are just waiting to be developed,” said Michael Hirschberg, executive director of the American Helicopter Society International, “but they have to actually be funded.”
Rotor & Wing, "Investing in the Future", May 1, 2012
Some believe the U.S. is falling behind in the development of new military rotorcraft. “We are decades behind in developing new rotorcraft capabilities,” said Michael Hirschberg, executive director of the American Helicopter Society International (AHSI).
Asking industry to pay a larger portion of R&D in the current climate of ongoing defense cuts is a reasonable request, but the U.S. government “has a responsibility to pay for R&D for future military rotorcraft,” Hirschberg believes. “And if this research has some trickle down benefit for the civil side, that is fantastic.”
National Defense, "Future Helicopter Technology Remains Up in the Air", April 2012
“If the past is any example, the future doesn't look good,” said Michael Hirschberg, executive director of American Helicopter Society International. “There are no new-start vertical takeoff and lift programs of record. Science and technology budgets have been starved and development of the next-generation vertical lift platform has atrophied.”
AOL Defense, "Army Seeks Brownout Fixes For Helo Pilots; Afghan Tests Loom", March 9, 2012
“The dangers of DVE have been known for as long as helicopters have flown in sand, dust and snow,” said Michael Hirschberg, executive director of the American Helicopter Society International. “Brownout has been a significant contributor to the losses of some 600 Americans and 400 vertical flight aircraft in the past 10 years of conflict -- much deadlier than enemy actions. But even after all this, there still aren't any technologies that are mature enough to field. The Pentagon is late-to-need on the technologies to close this critical gap.”
Aviation Week, "European Rotorcraft Research Moves Into High Gear," February 13, 2012 [subscription required]
“Europe now probably leads the world in green rotorcraft research, and has a well-coordinated and well-funded public-private partnership,” says Michael Hirschberg, executive director of the Washington-based American Helicopter Society International. Under Clean Sky, the Green Rotorcraft project includes €80 million each from both government and industry/academia. And despite the new austerity in Europe, the EU is continuing to show determined leadership to fund this work.
Defense News, "U.S. Rotorcraft Project to Examine 'Art of the Possible'," February 13, 2012 [subscription required]
The Joint Multi-Role (JMR) rotorcraft project, the Pentagon’s first attempt in more than two decades to advance the state of the art in helicopter design, should have initial studies completed this year.
“Joint Multi-Role … they’re kind of looking at the art of the possible,” said Mike Hirschberg, executive director of the American Helicopter Society.
AOL Defense, "DoD Strategy, Army Reset Should Bolster Helo, Drone Budgets," January 23, 2012.
Aviation accounts for only about 7 percent of the Army's personnel but in recent years has consumed 22 percent of the service's research, development and acquisition budget. Even so, helicopter industry and other experts say the Army has invested far too little in developing new and better rotorcraft. Instead, it has used its roughly $8 billion annual aviation acquisition budget mostly to refurbish its existing helicopter fleet and buy more of the same types of aircraft, though in more modern versions.
“The designs are old and many airframes are old, too,” Michael Hirschberg, executive director of the American Helicopter Society International, told a January aviation symposium held by the Association of the United States Army (AUSA).
Avionics Magazine, "Through Sand and Fog," January 1, 2012.
“The military has been dealing with problems of brownout since the first Gulf War in 1991 and Somalia in 1993. Several promising sensor technologies are being developed that could help mitigate brownout accidents, but still nothing has been fielded,” said Michael J. Hirschberg, executive director of the American Helicopter Society International. “DoD needs to make this a priority and fund this critical gap appropriately. The cost in lost aircraft alone, not to mention lost lives, would have paid for it many times over.”
Aviation Week & Space Technology, "Army Begins Defining Future Vertical-Lift," September 14, 2011.
“It's a major breakthrough that we are not flat-lined at $100 million and they have been successful in getting Army leadership to increase S&T funding for the JMR demonstration,” says Michael Hirschberg, executive director of American Helicopter Society (AHS) International, a technical body. “It remains to be seen whether it will be enough to do everything they want the technology demonstrators to do.” . . . With U.S. military rotorcraft production facing a cliff around the end of this decade as procurement programs end, AHS has been campaigning for more investment in technology development to sustain industry capabilities and lay foundations for the next generation. “The Defense Department needs to ensure there is enough funding for the JMR demonstrators to really be relevant,” says Hirschberg. “This is the Pentagon’s one chance to realize a significant advancement in capabilities—they can't afford to be timid.”
Rotor & Wing, "With Defense Cuts Expected, Are Military Helicopter Programs Safe?," September 1, 2011
“The Defense Department needs to reverse the effects of more than 25 years of inadequate investments in rotorcraft technology,” says AHS Executive Director Michael Hirschberg. What little R&D being funded by DoD are “band-aid solutions rather than new designs,” he adds. Congress is getting the message—sort of. It directed DoD to create a Strategic Plan for the Future of Vertical Lift. But without funding, it is a plan without substance.
The Washington Post, "Letter to the Editor", August 13, 2011
“The loss of 38 lives in the Aug. 6 downing of [a CH-47D] Chinook in Afghanistan is a tragic exclamation point on the loss of more than 400 helicopters and nearly 600 American lives since Sept. 11, 2001, due to hostile action and mishaps. The toll could have been much less; it reflects, in part, a lack of adequate investments in rotorcraft technology by the Defense Department over the past 25 years....The Pentagon must recognize the importance of vertical flight aircraft in achieving our national military strategy objectives and invest accordingly.”
Aviation Week & Space Technology, "Collective Action," Jul 18 , 2011 [subscription required]
“The Defense Department has to show it recognizes the importance of rotorcraft in current and future conflicts and start making serious investments in JMR,” says Michael Hirschberg, executive director of American Helicopter Society International. Speed is one aspect, but there is a larger underlying issue: “Rotorcraft have been doing 95% of the work and getting 5% of the budget,” he argues....
Hirschberg laments the “frustrating lack of implementation” of new technology in the U.S., such as fly-by-wire, because of the lack of new-start development programs. “Fly-by-wire is a technology with a huge payoff for rotorcraft, but less when you retrofit.” At the same time, he attacks the slowness with which the Defense Department has tackled known issues with the safety and survivability of helicopters.
He contrasts the services' slow and piecemeal response to steep losses of aircraft and crews from crashes when operating in degraded visual environments with the Defense Departmen's massive push to counter improvised explosive devices and field more survivable ground vehicles. “How could we send helicopters into Iraq and Afghanistan without addressing brownout—a problem we’ve known about for years? And still nothing's been fielded. We need somebody in OSD [Office of the Secretary of Defense] to stand up and say rotorcraft are important to national security and we need to invest in them,” he declares. “High speed can be part of that, too, but there has to be vision and leadership.”
AOLDefense.com, "They Just Got Osama, So Put Your Money Where The Rotors Are," July 7, 2011
“Although there have been significant technology advancements over the past 30 years, military helicopters flying today are, for the most part, derivatives of designs from Vietnam or even earlier,” notes Michael Hirschberg, executive director of the American Helicopter Society. “Our military leaders -- and the public -- should demand the same level of technology in their vertical flight assets as they do in their fighters and bombers.”
Wall Street Journal, "Helicopter Manufacturers Develop a Need for Speed," June 20, 2011 [subscription required]
Sophisticated software, lightweight engines and other new technologies hold promise for hybrid designs that borrow from airplanes, however. “We've made tremendous advances over the past 30 years in computer modeling, composite materials, aircraft controls and our understanding of helicopter physics,” says Mike Hirschberg, executive director of the American Helicopter Society International.
Forum 68 News
Rotor & Wing, "Helicopter CEOs: Collaboration, Affordability Keys to Future Success", May 9, 2012
Heads of the world’s major helicopter manufacturers said that technological innovation, R&D spending, collaboration and affordable designs are paramount to the future success of the rotorcraft industry during last week’s AHS Forum 68 in Fort Worth, Texas.
Rotor & Wing, "Sikorsky President Jeff Pino to Retire as Industry Undergoes ‘Change in Tone'", May 8, 2012
During last week’s American Helicopter Society (AHS) Forum in Fort Worth, Pino offered a view of the past and future to an “esteemed group of folks” during a CEO panel that also featured AgustaWestland vice president of research and development James Wang, Bell President & CEO John Garrison, Boeing’s Phil Dunford, vice president/general manager and operating executive for its Military Systems unit, Eurocopter President & CEO Lutz Bertling and Lockheed Martin’s Dan Schultz, vice president of ship and aviation systems.
Rotor & Wing, "AVX Designs Receive Technology Patent", May 8, 2012
The U.S. Patent Office has issued a primary utility patent to Fort Worth, Texas-based AVX Aircraft covering technical functions of the company's designs, including coaxial rotors, dual ducted fans and various internal components and controls.
Star-Telegram, "Helicopter industry adapts to new reality", May 5, 2012
There was a one-word, unofficial theme to the American Helicopter Society annual meeting in Fort Worth last week. Affordable. It's the new reality facing the U.S. military and, by extension, the industry that designs and builds helicopters for it.
Rotor & Wing, "Garrison, Mundt Join AHS Board", May 4, 2012
American Helicopter Society International (AHS), which held its Forum 68 this week in Fort Worth, has elected new directors and officers for the period covering July 1 through June 30, 2013.
Star-Telegram, "TCU students play key roles at Fort Worth helicopter company", May 2, 2012
The two students put together a video demonstrating their work, which is on display this week at the AVX booth at the American Helicopter Society's annual meeting at the Fort Worth Convention Center
Other AHS in the News
Atlanta Business Chronicle, "Straight up -- 'Technologist' launches VTOL aircraft startup," September 23, 2011
“A high-speed vertical takeoff and landing aircraft has always been one of the holy grails of aviation,” said Mike Hirschberg, executive director of AHS International, a professional society of engineers and scientists, based in Alexandria, Va., that is dedicated to the advancement of vertical flight technology.
Rotor & Wing, "Top Rotorcraft Engineers Meet at AHS Forum," June 1, 2011
The American Helicopter Society International (AHS), the Alexandria, Va.-based organization for professional helicopter engineers, held its 67th Forum from May 3–5 in Virginia Beach, Va. The combination technology forum, convention and exposition drew 1,200 members from around the world, plus a total of 69 service providers, aircraft manufacturers and component fabricators from all aspects of rotorcraft development.