AHS re-brands as ‘Vertical Flight Society’


American Helicopter Society (AHS) International is rebranding itself as the Vertical Flight Society, to better represent an increasing number of non-helicopter vertical flight companies joining its ranks.

Only two months after helicopter manufacturer Bell dropped the word  ‘helicopters’ from its name, AHS board members have decided to officially change the society’s  trade name from AHS International to the Vertical Flight Society, adopting a new logo and branding in the process.

The board approved the change on 6 March after survey results from multiple AHS members agreed that the name-change would better represent the turning tide of the helicopter market to incorporate all forms of vertical-lift aircraft.

One unnamed board member said: “I strongly support changing the name to ‘The Vertical Flight Society.’ I believe this name aptly represents what the Society is and what it wants to be in future. The past few years have seen a significant growth in companies venturing into vertical lift for various applications like air taxi, drones, etc. At this juncture, it is important for AHS to broaden its reach and position itself for the future.”

The society already hosts a number of vtol and vertical-lift events, including the upcoming Autonomous Flight for Tomorrow conference in Denver, Colorado which takes place on 1 May and the Autonomos VTOL Technical Meeting & eVTOL Symposium in January 2019.

Similarly to AHS, several major helicopter manufacturers have dropped their ‘helicopter’ branding over the last few years, the helicopter industry is expanding to incorporate all forms of vertical flight. Whether talking about Bell, Airbus, Sikorsky or Leonardo they have all dropped the ‘helicopter’ from their names as they have started development of tilt-rotors and other VTOLs.

Another unnamed board member said: “I believe there should be a name change but not just because of the international connotations. We represent all of vertical flight to include tilt-prop rotors, conventional rotorcraft, compound and composite rotorcraft and VTOL aircraft such as fan-in-wing, tilt-wing, deflected thrust, etc.”

A new leaf

All of the four major helicopter manufacturers are developing other vertical-flight aircraft. Bell and Airbus are both developing autonomous, electric air taxis, pursuing urban air mobility as major cities look to new means of reducing congestion.

Leonardo and Bell are both developing new tiltrotor aircraft. Leonardo began developing its own tiltrotor prototype, the AW609, in 1998. The tiltrotor design is capable of taking off and landing vertically but with speed and range greater than that of a conventional helicopter.

The Bell V280 Valor, a military-focused tiltorotor, was unveiled at the Army Aviation Association of America (AAAA) conference in 2013 as a prototype aircraft, developed as part the army’s future in vertical lift.