Virtual Meetings — Powering Through a Full Year
By Jim Sherman, VFS Director of Strategic Development
Vertiflite May/June 2021
VFS continues innovating after a full year of technical webinars, interviews and virtual chapter meetings.
After a full year of precautionary measures related to COVID-19, VFS continues to provide webinars on relevant vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) and electric VTOL (eVTOL) developments to keep members learning and actively engaged. Links to past and future webinars are available at www.vtol.org/webinars.
VFS eVTOL Writers Group Interview: Embention
On Feb. 17, VFS organized a group interview with Embention’s Javier Espuch. He provided an overview of various products that Embention is developing for drones and scaling up to work with eVTOL cargo and passenger aircraft. Espuch focused mainly on two product areas: Veronte, which provides customizable autopilot functions, and NMAND, a family of platforms that can be customized for many applications, including surveillance or photography.
VFS East New England (ENE) Chapter: LA County Fire — Air Operations
The VFS ENE Chapter sponsored a virtual chapter meeting on Feb. 23. The meeting featured the Los Angeles County Fire Department’s Patrick Sprengel, Battalion Chief, and Dennis Blumenthal, Chief of Helicopter Maintenance. This talk provided a fantastic overview of the challenges of fighting the 2020 fires in LA County.
VFS Stratford Chapter: Motion Amplification and Camera-Based, Full-Field Vibration Techniques
The VFS Stratford Chapter held a virtual chapter meeting on Feb. 24. The meeting featured Jeff Hay, CEO of RDI Technologies, Inc. This presentation provided an introduction to RDI’s Motion Amplification technology, applications and case examples with videos. Motion Amplification is a patented video-processing technique that detects subtle motion and enhances that motion to a level visible with the naked eye. The technology can resolve motions as small as 1x10-5 inches (250 nm) at 3.3 ft (1 m) and can be performed live and in real-time, making it suitable for a range of applications from product design, test and measurements, and research and development, to field-based machinery fault diagnosis, dynamics and structural testing.
VFS Philadelphia Chapter: Development of the Kitty Hawk Flyer
On March 10, the Philadelphia Chapter held a virtual dinner meeting with Cameron Robertson of Kitty Hawk, where he was the principal engineer of the company’s Flyer ultralight eVTOL. Robertson gave a detailed and revealing history of the Flyer and the rationale for the transition to the current, high-performance Heaviside eVTOL demonstrator (shown).
VFS Technical Program: System-Theoretic Process Analysis (STPA) for Flight Testers
On March 9, the Electric VTOL Flight Test Council — a joint effort led by VFS with the American Institute for Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), the Society of Flight Test Engineers (SFTE) and the Society of Experimental Test Pilots (SETP) — held a webinar with Dr. Nancy Leveson, Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). The webinar demonstrated the benefits that the STPA process could provide with insights into vehicle performance and failure scenarios prior to actual test flights. STPA is a hazard analysis technique that goes beyond component failures and considers unsafe interactions of system components — even if not failed. Leveson discussed the advantages of STPA over traditional hazard/risk analysis techniques, particularly for very complex systems. She also detailed some specific applications and case studies to highlight the power of STPA. See the sidebar, “VFS eVTOL Councils Holding Regular Meetings,” for more information.
VFS eVTOL Writers Group Interview: Real-Time Innovations (RTI)
On March 24, VFS organized a group interview with RTI’s Chip Downing, who provided an overview of how RTI’s platform can facilitate development of autonomous platforms. Downing focused on utilizing industry safety standards — such as DO- 178C, then Future Airborne Capability Environment (FACE) and Data Distribution Service (DDS) — as a basis to reduce risk is the deployment of new autonomous systems.
VFS Stratford Chapter: Joby Aviation Journey in Urban Air Mobility
The VFS Stratford Chapter held its first virtual quarterly meeting on March 24, featuring Dr. Maryam Khoshlahjeh from Joby Aviation. Khoshlahjeh highlighted Joby’s mission to “save a billion people an hour a day.” She presented some of the targets and results of the Joby S4 eVTOL vehicle, including zero operating emissions, range, speed and payload of up to four passengers and a pilot. Khoshlahjeh also highlighted the very low noise profile, showing that it achieves just 65 dBA in hover! With flight testing currently ongoing, the timeline for aircraft certification is still on schedule for 2023 and commercial launch in 2024. Unfortunately, VFS was not allowed to record the talk for future viewing.
VFS Arizona/Redstone/Philadelphia Chapters: Unmanned Aerial Systems/Urban Air Mobility
The Arizona, Redstone and Philadelphia Chapters collaborated to hold a monthly meeting on April 1, featuring Hector Garcia from Honeywell. This presentation highlighted some of the market drivers and technology needed to enable both UAS and UAM operational reality.
eVTOL Financing 101: Raising $tartup Capital
On April 8, VFS began a new virtual series dedicated to educating our members on the complexities of the capital markets, from seed investments to initial public offering (IPO) and special purpose acquisition companies (SPACs). The first lesson was led by Dana Jensen of Gemini, and featured Rafferty Jackson and Kirsten Bartok Touw. Jensen highlighted some of the activities of the US Department of Defense (DoD) investments and programs to support eVTOL/advanced air mobility (AAM), including the US Air Force’s Agility Prime initiative. Jackson, a principal of Jack Industries, provided a high-level overview of each of the different types of funding available, including the timing of when each type would be most appropriate to pursue. Jensen, Jackson and Touw — co-founder/co-president of New Vista Acquisition Corp. with Dennis Muilenburg, former CEO of The Boeing Company — fielded as many questions from the audience as time allowed. VFS will continue this monthly series by exploring the different capital markets in greater detail for members, starting on May 6, leading up to a start-up pitch day for corporate members this summer.
VFS has all of our available past video recordings linked on the VFS Video Library page: www.vtol.org/videos. Those available to the public are also available on the VFS YouTube channel: www.YouTube.com/VTOLsociety.