The British Helicopter Association (BHA) partners with Vertical Flight Expo for its first year under a new guise and located in Farnborough. Tim Fauchon, Chief Executive, talks to us about what this partnership means for the show, and the biggest challenges and trends in the industry today.
Can you tell us a bit more about BHA and what you do?
The BHA is a not for profit organisation which looks to represent its members and the UK civil rotorcraft industry with the UK Government and aviation regulator, the CAA. We also achieve this aim by working with the European Aviation Safety Agency to promote the safe and sustainable operation of UK helicopters.
What attracted you to partner with Vertical Flight Expo this year?
We have an ongoing relationship with Reed Exhibitions to promote and provide expert advice on the European rotorcraft industry. The Show’s re-brand from Helitech International to Vertical Flight Expo embraces the unmanned aviation sector and demonstrates what an exciting time it is to be involved with the event.
What does the partnership mean for this year’s event?
The BHA are proud to have been involved with the Show from the very beginning. Originally, the Show was a UK event held in Aberdeen, which as it grew embraced other parts of the helicopter industry besides the offshore oil and gas sector. A natural evolution was to alternate years in Europe, but the UK-based show has always attracted the largest audience and it’s a real bonus that by returning to an aviation location this year, we will be able to facilitate fly ins.
Why are events like Vertical Flight Expo important for the industry?
The Show is a great opportunity for operators, suppliers, and the customers of the industry to meet and view new products and services. The conference programme is a fantastic education tool, with important discussions on topics such as safety as well as the wider changes that the industry is facing.
What are the challenges with recruiting for the next generation in the industry? What steps is BHA taking to fill the skills gap?
The lack of new entrants into the aviation sector is a focal point of this year’s Show and we will be looking to showcase the aviation sector to around 300 students by holding a careers session for school leavers. Furthermore, we are holding a separate session for the Armed Forces resettlement programme and for aviation personnel who already have some experience or a license and want to move up to the next level.
What do you think is the most exciting upcoming technology and/or trend in vertical flight technologies?
The unmanned industry is looking to carry out Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) autonomous operations (i.e. Amazon delivering your orders by drone). Before this becomes the norm, the regulators will need to establish how technology can detect and avoid other users of the shared airspace. This applies to both manned and unmanned aircraft and requires greater industry collaboration for successful implementation. Unmanned urban mobility is another sector which will have to be catered for. The BHA is very much committed to working with the unmanned sector to ensure their operations are safely incorporated into the airspace structure, and we are looking forward to seeing the sector represented at the Show.