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Piasecki Relaunches the Heliplex
  • 05 Jul 2023 06:19 AM
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Piasecki Relaunches the Heliplex

Piasecki Aircraft purchases the legacy Keystone helicopter complex and creates a new rotorcraft production and modification hub in southeastern Pennsylvania.

By Kenneth I. Swartz
Vertiflite, Jul/Aug 2023

On April 11, 1943, Frank Piasecki’s single-seat PV-2 accidentally broke free of its restraints outside of Philadelphia, making his team the second American company to successfully fly a helicopter.

Just over 80 years later, on May 31, 2023, his company, Piasecki Aircraft Corporation (PiAC), purposefully cut the ribbon of its new Heliplex facilities. There it will be the first American company to successfully fly a hydrogen-powered helicopter, and where it will develop and produce the world’s first hydrogen helicopter.

Reopening the Heliplex

The ribbon-cutting ceremony featured the following speakers (in order):

John Piasecki: CEO, Piasecki Aircraft
Fred Piasecki: Chairman and CTO, Piasecki Aircraft
Rep. Chrissy Houlahan: US Congresswoman, PA 6th District
Secretary Rick Siger: Secretary of the Department of Community and Economic Development
Dr. Martine Rothblatt: CEO and Chair, United Therapeutics
Mike Stanberry: President and CEO, Metro Aviation
Dr. Val Miftakhov: Founder and CEO, ZeroAvia
Bill Moeller: Director of Business Development, Triumph
Mike Tremlett: President & Chief Executive Officer, Columbia Helicopters
Mike Hirschberg: Executive Director, Vertical Flight Society

A transcript of Mike Hirschberg’s remarks is available.

PiAC bought the 219,000-ft² (20,350-m²) from Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin Company for $10.5M, the Philadelphia Business Journal reported on April 5. The 28-acre (11.3-ha) parcel of land in Coatesville, Pennsylvania, will be Piasecki’s state-of-the-art advanced research and development (R&D) center for next-generation vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) aircraft, uncrewed aircraft systems (UAS) and related enabling technologies.

The Heliplex is 45 miles (72 km) west of Philadelphia, next to Chester County G.O. Carlson Airport (KMQS) and the former home of Sikorsky’s S-76C and S-92A final assembly lines (see “Keystone Helicopters and the Heliplex,” Vertiflite, Jul/Aug 2023).

The announcement caught many in the industry by surprise. PiAC has done business since 1955 from a Delaware riverfront property in Essington, Pennsylvania (just east of Boeing Vertical Lift factory in Ridley Park). Expanding into the Heliplex facility will now enable PiAC to execute multiple programs concurrently.

The ribbon cutting celebrated the past, present and future of PiAC and was emceed by brothers John and Fred Piasecki. The event included a number of speeches by invited guests before a hangar full of employees, politicians and a large number of vertical flight pioneers, entrepreneurs and visionaries.

“We’ve spent the past 12 months working to secure this facility as a future home for Piasecki’s expansion in the research and development of vertical lift technologies and the transition of those technologies into practical products that can be used and helpful,” said PiAC CEO John Piasecki.

He added, “the acquisition of this facility would not have been possible without the cooperation of Lockheed Martin Sikorsky [which] did a great service to the community by figuring out a way to sell this facility to another aviation company that is developing new technologies… that are going to make this area a hub of vertical innovation.” Support from Meridian Bank was also “critical to the successful acquisition of this facility.”

The official press release — and what was largely reported in the media after the event — noted, “the company’s forthcoming PA-890 helicopter, the world’s first zero-emission hydrogen fuel cell rotorcraft, will be built and tested there. The facility — which includes engineering development, aircraft assembly, paint and finishing facilities, and a well-equipped production flight test and delivery center — will open its doors to employees in the fall and is expected to attract about 400 workers by 2028.”

The grand-opening ceremony featured dignitaries from government and industry. (Piasecki photo)

However, the ribbon-cutting event included the confirmation of launch customer orders for the PA-890 from United Therapeutics and Metro Aviation, and a new strategic partnership with Columbia Helicopters to produce new Boeing Vertol Model 107-III tandem-rotor helicopters at the Heliplex from surplus CH-46E Sea Knight airframes. These groundbreaking announcements were not reported in the official news release and were missed by most of the news coverage.

Piasecki also hopes to make the Heliplex a major helicopter painting facility. Lockheed Martin left the paint facilities intact, as well as a significant amount of support equipment for the facility. PiAC recently signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with SureFlight Aircraft Completions at Carlson Airport to utilize the Heliplex paint shop to expand its business.

Piasecki Legacy

The spirit of Frank Piasecki, who died in 2008, was evoked at the ceremony in a series of historical videos that showcased his many achievements.

A son of Polish immigrants, Piasecki was raised in the Delaware Valley. Its long history of vertical flight developments goes back nearly 100 years ago with the founding of Pitcairn-Cierva Autogiro Company in 1926, followed by the contributions of the Kellett Autogiro Corporation, Burke Wilford, Arthur M. Young and Platt-LePage Aircraft (see “The Philadelphia Region: The Cradle of Rotary-Wing Aviation in the US,” Vertiflite, Sept/Oct 2018).

The legacy of founder Frank Piasecki loomed large over the proceedings. (VFS staff photo)

Piasecki worked for Kellett in his teens, earned a degree in aeronautical engineering from New York University’s Guggenheim School of Aeronautics — where he studied under rotary-wing aeronautics pioneer Dr. Alexander Klemin — and then worked for Platt-LePage, while at the same time forming the P-V Engineering Forum with his friend Harold Venzie in 1941. Postwar, the renamed Piasecki Helicopter Corp. developed a series of innovative tandem-rotor helicopter designs that were further developed by Vertol Aircraft and Boeing Helicopters, after Frank Piasecki started Piasecki Aircraft Corp.

Other companies got their start locally, including Keystone Helicopters (which later became Sikorsky Global Helicopters), and the US subsidiaries of MBB Helicopters and Agusta Helicopters (later AgustaWestland and Leonardo).

PiAC Chairman of the Board and Chief Technology Officer Fred Piasecki said his father’s success was anchored in “experience-based learning” that came from working with Kellett and Platt-LePage in his youth.

“This is what I call the ‘knowledge-driven organization’ in which the technical leads of the various group in the design area — who are most knowledgeable about the state of the art in their field — were actually assigned leadership positions to go execute their jobs,” he noted. “It was a flat, dynamic organization in which all employees were encouraged to add to the body of knowledge.

“This also put him in a position to be, not chief engineer, but chief of encouragement. The real juice of Frank was making sure all the people were talking together, communicating faults back up to design as quickly as possible to integrate them in the products. In other words, [he created] a highly integrated team with all disciplines at the table working on a design solution,” said Fred Piasecki, adding that this small, agile and adaptive approach to technology development lives on “in our own research and projects today.”

New Opportunities

In 2023, PiAC finds itself in the unique position of developing multiple “advanced innovative vertical lift technologies to meet the rapidly changing needs of the US armed services and seize opportunities to expand vertical mobility in the commercial sector,” proclaimed a new corporate video screened at Coatesville.

Congresswoman Chrissy Houlahan. (Piasecki photo)

Building on its legacy of perfecting the tandem-rotor helicopter — which is still in production with the Boeing CH-47 Chinook — and the design, fabrication, and flight testing of more than 25 advanced VTOL and UAS aircraft to date, PiAC is now developing “a truly groundbreaking vertical-lift technology portfolio, including advanced digital flight controls and flight automation technology, hydrogen-fuel cells and hybrid propulsion systems, morphing aerostructures, and more.”

The full-scale development and production of any one of these military and civil programs would have tested the capabilities of the Essington site, so Lockheed Martin’s plan to vacate the Heliplex — first announced in 2019 and ultimately implemented in early 2022 — presented a unique opportunity for PiAC to expand. Local government officials also supported the acquisition.

“This world-class facility will serve as a strong foundation for future growth and will enable us to expand our R&D and production capabilities as we deliver transformational vertical lift technologies to the defense and commercial markets,” said John Piasecki.

The edm aerotec CoAX-2D will become the HAXEL demonstrator with the ZeroAvia hydrogen fuel cell components on display. (VFS staff photo)

“We chose to expand our development capabilities in the Delaware Valley because of its deep roots within the helicopter industry, its highly talented workforce, and its robust supplier network. PiAC is committed to creating local jobs by fostering cutting-edge innovation and we’re excited to support a community that has long prided itself on delivering aviation excellence,” he added.

“Chester County is home to some of the most talented manufacturing and tech workforces in the country,” said US Representative Chrissy Houlahan from Pennsylvania’s 6th Congressional District, which includes Chester County. “Piasecki’s expansion into Coatesville is further testament to what many of us have known for years — Chester County is a great place to grow your business.”

Piasecki’s acquisition and expansion into the Heliplex facility was also enabled by the strong support from Pennsylvania Governors Tom Wolf and Josh Shapiro (who took office in January); the Chester County Commissioners; the Chester County Economic Development Council; Senator Robert Casey; and Congresswoman Houlahan.

The company says it is “also working closely with partners in government, academia and industry to advance these technologies and develop platform and system-level air vehicle integrations, as well as conduct flight tests.”

Hydrogen-Powered PA-890

The Piasecki X-49 Vectored Thrust Ducted Propeller (VTDP), along with several different proposed installations. (VFS staff photo)

PiAC has been moving quickly to occupy the Heliplex, with an initial focus on advancing the PA-890 technology.

Piasecki has procured two German-made edm aerotec CoAX-2D two-seat coaxial helicopters for engineering and flight evaluations. The company will begin flight testing the stock CoAX-2D later this year, followed by conversion of one aircraft to a hydrogen-fuel-cell-powered rotorcraft for R&D.

Early next year, Piasecki expects to make the world’s first human-carrying, hydrogen-powered helicopter flight. It will use an 80-kW ZeroAvia (formerly HyPoint) high-temperature proton exchange membrane (HTPEM) fuel cell (see “Piasecki to Fly World’s First Hydrogen Helicopter,” Vertiflite, May/June 2022). Teamed with ZeroAvia for the HTPEM, PiAC calls its demonstrator the HAXEL, for Hydrogen coAXial Electric Lift (see “H2-Aero Symposium: Zero Emissions Aircraft Take Flight,” Vertiflite, May/June 2023).

In 2017, the company embarked on the development of an electric rotorcraft for organ delivery (see “Martine Rothblatt: Serial Entrepreneur,” Vertiflite, July/Aug 2022). After evaluating numerous designs, PiAC eventually settled on a slowed-rotor, compound, electric helicopter configuration that could be a clean replacement for existing helicopters. The design objectives included producing zero emissions, with 50% lower operating costs and a significantly lower noise signature compared to today’s fossil fuel-burning turbine helicopters.

John Piasecki, CEO of Piasecki Aircraft. (Piasecki photo)

The configuration of the PA-890 draws on PiAC’s previous experience developing and flight testing three compound helicopters over 50 years: the 16H-1 Pathfinder and 16H-1A Pathfinder II in the 1960s and the X-49A in the 2000s.

The PA-890 features a compound design with a large, four-bladed main rotor, a variable incidence wing that rotates up to 90° to minimize download for efficient hovering while providing sufficient lift to offload the main rotor in forward flight, a vertical tail, and a swiveling tailrotor that provides anti-torque and yaw control in hover and propulsive thrust for cruise.

The PA-890 will be certified by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) under existing Part 27/29 rotorcraft standards, limiting the scope of special conditions, which significantly reduces technical, cost and schedule risk of achieving certification.

United Therapeutics

John Piasecki revealed in Coatesville that the inspiration to the develop the PA-890 came in the form of a challenge in 2017 from Dr. Martine Rothblatt, CEO of United Therapeutics, who was seeking a zero-emissions VTOL aircraft to deliver transplant organs to hospitals (see “Electric VTOL for Organs on Demand,” Vertiflite, March/April 2019).

Over the past seven years, United Therapeutics has also supported the development of electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft by at least three other companies — EHang, Beta Technologies and Tier 1 Engineering — and pioneered the delivery of transplant organs by drones between hospitals in Canada (see “Tier 1 Engineering Pioneers Electric e-R44,” Vertiflite, July/Aug 2022).

Fred Piasecki, Chair and CTO of Piasecki Aircraft. (Piasecki photo)

“Some 30 years ago, when I designed the Sirius XM Satellite Radio system, many people thought it was impossible, but we were on the cusp of some revolutions or revolution in digital signal processing chips and more powerful satellites that would in fact make the dream of satellite radio possible,” said Rothblatt.

“Unimagined was a market of tens of millions of people willing to pay a monthly subscription fee for advertiser-free programming nationwide to a car radio,” said Rothblatt. “Shortly after that, our youngest daughter was diagnosed with a life-threatening disease, pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH), that only a transplant could cure, and that there were no medicines available.”

The urgency sent Rothblatt on a new course to develop new medicines for patients with PAH and led to the founding of United Therapeutics (UT), which successfully developed a number of new medicines that have extended the life of Rothblatt’s daughter and 50,000 other American with PAH. In 2022, UT had annual revenues of $1.9B.

Unfortunately, the medicines are not a cure for PAH, so UT is now focusing on increasing the supply of transplant organs and development of revolutionary new zero-emission VTOL aircraft to transport these organs in time for life-saving surgeries.

“When they first pitched eVTOLs for transplantable organ delivery to the Piasecki family, many people thought it was really quite impossible to have electric vertical flight,” said Rothblatt. Expressing strong confidence in Piasecki’s efforts, Rothblatt said, “It’s my honor, as the CEO of United Therapeutics to have signed on as a launch customer for the… first ever hydrogenfueled electric vertical takeoff and landing aircraft, the PA-890.”

Last year, UT demonstrated the “world’s first manufactured hearts and kidneys transplanted into people [and] we are preparing… to do whatever it takes to get the FDA to approve our ability to create an unlimited supply of transplantable organs for patients on the heart and kidney and liver transplant lists throughout the United States.”

Dr. Martine Rothblatt, CEO and Chair of United Therapeutics, was the genesis behind the electric and hydrogen-electric development at PiAC and several other companies. (Piasecki photo)

Rothblatt continued, “we are counting on Piasecki Aircraft to do whatever it takes to get the FAA [approval] to provide us and others with thousands of hydrogen-powered electric VTOLs to deliver these organs to hospitals, doctors and patients throughout the country — and to do so in a way that leaves our planet healthier with the air cleaner for our children, our grandchildren, and everybody to come.”

“Almost a century ago, people told Frank Piasecki that helicopters were impossible. Even Orville Wright said that. Frank Piasecki proved them wrong. Today, the teams led by his sons are proving that whatever can be conceived and scientifically believed, can be practically achieved. Thank you for taking such a strong step forward today with the Piasecki Heliplex,” she concluded.

Metro Aviation

The next PA-890 launch customer to take the stage was Mike Stanbury, President and CEO of Metro Aviation, the largest privately-owned traditional air medical operator in the US, with a fleet of more than 150 helicopters on 49 hospital contracts. Metro also operates a major completion center for EMS and lawenforcement helicopters.

Early in the development program, PiAC went to see Stanbury and his partner Milton Geltz at Metro’s headquarters in Shreveport, Louisiana, to get input into the PA-890 design since “they understand the challenges that operators face.”

On his last day as VFS Executive Director, Mike Hirschberg gave heartfelt praise to the pioneering spirit of the Piasecki family. (Piasecki photo)

The two companies announced an MOU at the Helicopter Association International (HAI) Heli-Expo 2022 trade show; the MOU has since been developed into a comprehensive strategic partnership. Metro is helping Piasecki to gain an operator’s perspective and “understand the viewpoint of a very successful completion, repair and overhaul facility, as well as one of the world’s most advanced helicopter flight training centers,” John Piasecki stated when the MOU was signed.

“Milton and I are indeed privileged and honored to be a launch customer for the PA-890,” said Stanbury in Coatesville, explaining that that the PA-890 is the right aircraft for today’s market.

“It’s more than 20 years since a new light helicopter suitable for air ambulance missions entered the market, and today there is a real need for a new technology helicopter with more safety features and 50% lower operating costs than existing models,” said Stanbury. He added that an aircraft like the PA-890 “will give us an increased efficiency and effectiveness [in] our operations. And to do this with a carbon free footprint is just icing on the cake.

“We are proud to be a launch customer for this fantastic new aircraft. And Metro will help with defining the product,” Stanbury concluded, “and we will be with you every step of the way in getting this aircraft transitioned to the market.”

ZeroAvia

The PA-890 was originally conceived with battery-electric propulsion, but in August 2021 PiAC announced a partnership with HyPoint — an innovator in HTPEM hydrogen fuel cell systems — for the development and certification of a 650-kW hydrogen fuel cell system. PiAC’s development and license agreement with HyPoint provides Piasecki with the exclusive license on the technology developed under this collaboration for all VTOL applications.

HyPoint was founded in the Silicon Valley in 2019 and was at the forefront of developing turbo air-cooled HTPEM fuel cell technology, which offers increased specific power output and energy density especially needed for eVTOL applications. The patented innovations including lightweight bipolar plates, a highly conductive corrosion-resistant coating, and an industryfirst air cooling and oxygen supply system.

PiAC displayed many different technology demonstrators at the ceremony, including these two test aircraft for its Adaptive Digital Automated Pilotage Technology (ADAPT) program. (VFS staff photo)

In October 2022, HyPoint was acquired by ZeroAvia (based in the UK and US), which is developing hydrogen propulsion systems for 9–19 seat aircraft by 2025, and up to 700-mile (1,100-km) range in 40–80 seat aircraft by 2027. PiAC’s partnership and licensing agreement with HyPoint were assigned to ZeroAvia, which is working with PiAC to flight demonstrate the world’s first hydrogen-powered, manned helicopter by the end of this year. This risk-reduction effort directly informs PiAC and ZeroAvia’s development of a full-scale 660-kW HTPEM hydrogen fuel cell propulsion system for the PA-890 and other eVTOL aircraft.

Val Miftakhov, CEO of ZeroAvia, began his speech in Coatesville by highlighting the challenges of operating a battery-electric aircraft including weight constraints, cycling constraints and turnaround time limitations. However, “with hydrogen, you’re able to refuel quickly. You’re able to get as much energy on the aircraft and potentially more than even with kerosene, with the right type of storage.

“And at the same time,” he continued, “with hydrogen production possible from zero-emission electricity, you can get the cost of seat-mile or pound-mile 50% lower than the kerosene equivalent, which is making a huge difference for operators.”

John Piasecki and Rep. Chrissy Houlahan cut the ceremonial ribbon to officially open the facility. (VFS staff photo)

Miftakhov expects that the electrolytic production of hydrogen will trend downward towards a zero marginal cost with the use of renewable energy, and that this, combined with the low maintenance of an electric propulsion system, will lead to tremendous economic and climate benefits.

Earlier this year, ZeroAvia flew a twin-engine Dornier Do 228 with one of the turboprop engines replaced with an electric motor and a hydrogen fuel cell (see “H2-Aero Symposium: Zero Emissions Aircraft Take Flight,” Vertiflite, May/June 2023).

Miftakhov says his company now enjoys the backing of four out of the top 10 airlines, as well as numerous other investors, including Bill Gates’ Breakthrough Energy Ventures, Jeff Bezos’/Amazon’s Climate Pledge Fund, and global energy company Shell.

Triumph Group

Bill Moeller, Director of Business Development for the Berwyn, Pennsylvania-headquartered Triumph Group, also spoke at Coatesville. Triumph, he said, was pleased with Piasecki’s “commitment to design and manufacture in the Pennsylvania region.” Triumph was also proud to support the development of the main transmission for the PA-890, as well as “partnering with Piasecki on the DARPA SPRINT proposal on geared solutions” (see “DARPA SPRINTs Toward High-Speed VTOL,” Vertiflite, May/June 2023).

Columbia Helicopters Model 107-III

Mike Tremlett, President and CEO of Columbia Helicopters, surprised the Heliplex audience by announcing that the company had just signed a partnership agreement with Piasecki that will see Columbia bring a new tandem-rotor helicopter to the market, which he announced was the Columbia Model 107-III.

Frank Piasecki was a longtime friend of Columbia Helicopters founder Wes Lematta. In 1969, Columbia acquired its first Vertol 107-II — the civilian version of the CH-46 Sea Knight — from Pan Am, which had used to it fly passengers in New York City.

Columbia introduced the Model 107-II into the helicopter logging market in the Pacific Northwest, and then deployed its growing fleet on a wide range of heavy-lift utility and firefighting operations around the world. Columbia expanded its capabilities in the mid-1980s when it added the first Boeing 234 commercial Chinooks to its fleet.

The Heliplex features 219,000 ft² of production, development and office space as well as ample flight facilities. (Piasecki photo)

Then in 2006, Columbia Helicopters closed a deal with The Boeing Company to acquire the Type Certificates for the Vertol 107-II and Model 234 Chinook.

Between July 2011 and the summer of 2021, Columbia flew nine Model 107-II and five Model 234 helicopters on contract to the US Air Mobility Command in Afghanistan, transporting passengers and cargo, and performing extensive external load work.

Last year, as Columbia was celebrating one million flight hours of tandem-rotor helicopter operations, the company was also making a strategic pivot from being the world’s only civil operator of the Model 107-II and 234, to offering both aircraft for sale to other customers for the first time, said Tremlett. This includes the sale of the first new production commercial Chinooks in 40 years, using airframes that had never been completed.

The first step came earlier this year when Columbia announced it had sold a commercial Model 107-II to Heliswiss in Switzerland and had secured additional orders for commercial 107-IIs and a new commercial 234 to customers in the Republic of Korea.

Over many years, Columbia bought most of the useable 107-IIs retired by commercial operators and the governments of Canada, Japan, Sweden and Thailand, with more than 35 airframes in storage and available for refurbishment and resale.

Piasecki re-opened the Heliplex on May 31, 2023. (VFS staff photo)

Tremlett announced that, “as of today, we’ve signed a new agreement with Piasecki, where Columbia Helicopters and Piasecki together will be bringing a brand-new version of a tandem rotor helicopter to the market — the Columbia 107-III.”

He said the 107-III will “fill a great void.” With the Russian invasion of Ukraine, “former Russian military aircraft are now being forced out of the market space. International operators that have operated, Mil-17s, Mil-8s and the Kamov Ka-32s are now seeing [those] aircraft being divested.” The 107-III, he said, will outperform the Russian rotorcraft, the Sikorsky Black Hawk and other competing aircraft, such as the Airbus H225 and AS332 Super Pumas.

Tremlett said that Columbia is going to partner with Piasecki “on a new endeavor to help our allies who are divesting of former Russian military aircraft. And that will be a concerted effort between Piasecki and Columbia to pull retired CH-46 Echoes [CH-46Es] out of the military’s boneyard out in Arizona and do the resets here in Pennsylvania for foreign military sales.”

Tremlett concluded by saying that “we do believe Piasecki is a great partner in this space. If it wasn’t for the Piasecki family, we wouldn’t have this model of helicopter that we’re actually flying and operating.”

The Future is Bright

Late in life, Frank Piasecki famously said, “The future is bright. It’s your future. Be there!”

His sons John and Fred Piasecki carry on the PiAC tradition and have laid the groundwork to evolve beyond the confines of its legacy home in Essington. The Heliplex in Coatesville is far more than just the facility to develop and produce the world’s first hydrogen helicopter.

A photo album of VFS images from the ceremony (including closeups of the aircraft and models on display) is available on the VFS Photo Gallery at https://gallery.vtol.org/albums.
A video of the ceremony livestream can be found at https://www.youtube.com/piaseckiAC/streams.

Long known as leading experts in developing advanced technology for military applications (see “Piasecki Aircraft: Carrying on the Spirit of Innovation,” Vertiflite, March/April 2021), the Heliplex represents a turning point. The new Coatesville facility is where Piasecki Aircraft becomes a major industry partner in developing, producing, upgrading and improving civil helicopters and military rotorcraft.

The Heliplex fell silent last year when Sikorsky moved out, with some 300 production workers losing their jobs. Piasecki plans to hire 400 workers to give the Heliplex a new lease on life with new VTOL concepts on the drawing board to be built and test flown in Coatesville. These entrepreneurial efforts will draw on the tremendous talent pool that has been developed in the Delaware Valley, since the first pioneering efforts nearly a century ago.

The ribbon-cutting ceremony filled a small corner of the massive production hall, and featured past and current Piasecki VTOL projects. (VFS staff photo)

About the Author

Ken Swartz is a senior aerospace marketing communications strategist, running Aeromedia Communications in Toronto, Canada. He specializes in aerospace market analysis and corporate communications. He’s worked in the regional airline, commercial helicopter and commercial aircraft manufacturing industries for 30+ years and has reported on vertical flight since 1978. In 2010, he received the Helicopter Association International’s “Communicator of the Year” award.

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