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VFS Chapters Raise the Bar for Virtual Meetings
  • 21 Dec 2020 11:16 AM
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VFS Chapters Raise the Bar for Virtual Meetings

Since VFS Forum 76, VFS Chapters have been very active with virtual meetings, providing excellent speakers and content to close out 2020 on a high note.

By Jim Sherman
VFS Director of Strategic Development

Beginning in April, the Vertical Flight Society started providing virtual content with both industry interviews and virtual chapter meetings. Links to past and future webinars are available at www.vtol.org/webinars. Below is a roundup of a dozen of the webinars organized by the chapters and headquarters since the last issue of Vertiflite.

1.    VFS Technical Program: Composites Design and Manufacturing for the RACER Rotorcraft

On Oct. 21, VFS member Katrin Mayrhofer, along with Albert Cubillo from Romaero, presented a summary of the effort by INCAS — National Institute for Aerospace Research “Elie Carafoli” — in the development of the Clean Sky 2 Rapid And Cost-Effective Rotorcraft (RACER) program. Mayrhofer and Cubillo talked about the RACER project and its overall goals within the Airbus Helicopters design to get to prepare for flight test and demonstrate technical readiness level (TRL) six. Bucharest, Romania-based INCAS and Romaero are providing consulting services and development of the central fuselage. A large part of the presentation focused on the lessons learned to-date throughout the program, including working within a large consortium and the technical issues with new composite structure design. 

2.    Stratford Chapter

The Stratford Chapter held three programs to close out the fall, with a focus on career development. The first chapter meeting after Forum 76 featured VFS lifetime member Dr. Andreas Bernhard presenting the 21st Century Aircraft Design on Oct. 21. He provided a background of his involvement in VFS and a reflection on the importance of helicopters in various missions, particularly search and rescue. That led to a discussion on the current state of helicopter design and workforce education. Finally, Dr. Bernhard talked about the technologies required to create the next generation of vehicles, including composite structures, integrated toolsets, model-based design and virtual testing, and other technologies that will be critical for success. Finally, he talked about future technologies applied to Future Vertical Lift (FVL) and X2 technology. This was an incredibly insightful webinar. 

3.    Arizona/Philadelphia/Redstone Chapters

Three chapters collaborated during the fall to provide detailed technical talks as part of their combined chapter meetings. For the Oct. 22 meeting, Redstone recruited Matt Sipe, the US Army’s Program Executive Office (PEO) Aviation program manager for Electrical Power Systems (EPS). Sipe talked about the electrical power gaps in current helicopter platforms and the predicted gaps in the future. He said that PEO Aviation is making significant investments to migrate to higher voltage systems to support Future Vertical Lift (FVL) platforms. 

4.    South Florida Chapter

The VFS South Florida Chapter’s first virtual meeting was held on Oct. 22; it featured VFS member Bill Fell and fellow test pilot Christiaan Corry, and was moderated by chapter president, Phil Alldridge. This was a joint meeting with the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), Society of Flight Test Engineers (SFTE) and Society of Experimental Test Pilots (SETP). Fell and Corry provided a history of Sikorsky’s X2 technology and described their experiences with ground, wind tunnel and flight testing X2 technology, including the X2 Technology Demonstrator, the S-97 Raider and the SB>1 Defiant. They noted that with the Raider’s performance targets being very high, the testing has been conservative in reaching those targets, but it has reached 200 kt (370 km/h) in forward flight, 60° bank angle at 160 kt (296 km/h) and sideward flight at 35 kt (64.8 km/h).

5.    Southwest Chapter

The VFS Southwest Chapter’s first virtual meeting was held Nov. 10, and featured a reprise of a paper presented at the VFS Forum 76 by Caitlin Berrigan from Bell and Dr. Mark Lopez from the US Army: “Bell V-280 Application of Joint Input-Output Methodology for Hover Model Identification.” Dr. Mark Tischler, the Forum 76 Nikolsky Lecturer, was a guest moderator. The chapter also featured a first for VFS in that the first half hour was an open discussion with the Southwest Chapter officers and Tischler. 

6.    VFS Technical Program: Bell Reveals the Revolutionary EDAT Demonstrator

On Nov. 16, VFS member Eric Sinusas from Bell provided and overview of the revolutionary Electrically Distributed Anti-Torque (EDAT) technology demonstrator, including the benefits of utilizing the EDAT — such as fixed-pitch blades, thrust-controlled rpm changes, reduced noise signature, redundancy and zero rpm on the ground. The EDAT is installed on a Bell 429 and is composed of four electrically driven, fixed-pitch fans, with the electric power provided by the turbine engine. The demonstrator made its first flight in May 2019 and had accrued more than 50 hours of combined ground and flight test. The system is capable of flying sideways at 35 kt (65 km/h) — or holding hover in a 35 kt crosswind. 

7.     Stratford Chapter

The second Stratford Chapter meeting this fall, held on Nov. 18, featured Sikorsky VP Jeanette Eaton, titled “Finding a New Path – Discovering Your Passion in Life and Leadership.” Eaton provided a short history of her life and why she became so interested in helicopters, and her journey to become a pilot and how that has guided her career and success. Her flying experiences have helped her to become an integral part of customer experience and using that experience to guide the designs and upgrades, from emergency medical services (EMS) to firefighting. She uses those experiences to educate and inspire young people, especially girls, to get into science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields. Finally, she provided insight into her style and philosophy. 

8.    Arizona/Philadelphia Chapter

The Philadelphia and Arizona chapters collaborated on Nov. 18 to develop the highly acclaimed presentation, “Solving Today’s Aerial Firefighting Challenges,” featuring Robert Roedts, Keith Saylor and Scott Janetsky from Columbia Helicopters. Janetsky covered the history and fleet makeup of the Columbia operation, including the development of firefighting equipment for helicopters, starting with the use of a concrete bucket and advancing to the Bambi bucket and internal tanks. One of the important developments along the way was the bubble window to enable a closed cockpit with an external view. Roedts talked about firefighting operations, current technology developments that are underway, and the continued role of helicopters in aerial firefighting. 

9.    East New England Chapter

On Dec. 8, the East New England Chapter held their final virtual chapter meeting of 2020, featuring current VFS President, and President of Sikorsky, Dan Schultz. His presentation focused on safety, speed and autonomy for future rotorcraft design. Unfortunately, for VFS, Schultz is retiring at the beginning of 2021, and is stepping down as VFS President; Chapter President Harry Nahatis and the event sponsor — represented by Tony Mathis, president and CEO of GE Aviation’s Military Systems — gave Schultz a heartfelt farewell.

10.    Hampton Roads Chapter

On Dec. 9, the VFS Hampton Roads Chapter quarterly luncheon hosted Dan Newman, senior technical fellow and chief engineer of Boeing’s Phantom Works Advanced Vertical Lift. Newman spoke about how NATO has setting the conditions for the Next Generation Rotorcraft (NGR) and identifying NGR Capabilities (NGRC) over the past few years through a series of studies by the NATO Science and Technology Office (STO), the NGRC Team of Experts (TOE), and an ongoing series of studies by the NATO Industry Advisory Group (NIAG).

11.    Stratford Chapter

The Stratford Chapter hosted the Northeast region Lichten competition presentations on Dec. 9. The finalists for the award from the region were Andrew Lavoie with “Variational Tolerance Analysis: Design and Manufacturing Optimization using Statistical Simulation,” Barton Hainsworth with “The Rapid Prototype Design and Development of a lightweight Weapons and Stores Pylon (WASP) for the S-70i Black Hawk Helicopter,” and Yair Preiss with “Design of Topology Optimized Components for Traditional Manufacturing.” 

12.    Montréal-Ottawa Chapter

Finally, on Dec. 14, the Montréal-Ottawa Chapter hosted the “eVTOL Writers Group” interview of JR Hammond, head of the newly formed Canadian Advanced Air Mobility (CAAM) Consortium. Canada has claimed its spot on the global stage for progressing advanced air mobility utilizing a Triple Bottom Line (economic, environmental and social) approach (see "AAM Accelerates in Canada"). Hammond announced that CAAM is expanding its scope beyond Vancouver to Toronto and other metropolitan regions in Canada. He also announced that Vancouver and CAAM recently joined as an inaugural city of the World Economic Forum's AAM city coalition. VFS Board member and Vertiflite Senior Contributing Editor Ken Swartz moderated the interview. 

VFS will continue holding virtual programming — including interviews, technical talks and webinars from the VFS chapters — in 2021. Recordings of past webinars and information about upcoming events are posted at www.vtol.org/webinars. We hope you will join us for these informative presentations and maintain your sense of community with your vertical flight colleagues, despite geographic and social distances. 

Note: VFS has linked past webinar video recordings on the VFS Video Library page, www.vtol.org/videos, and on the VFS YouTube channel, www.youtube.com/vtolsociety.

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