New EHA conference unites eVTOLs and Helicopters


EuropeanRotors International: Peter Moeller, Chairman European Helicopter Association (EHA).

Peter Möller, Chairman European Helicopter Association (EHA).

A new collaborative conference by the European Helicopter Association (EHA) and the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) will bring major helicopter companies, eVTOL start-ups, and the general public together in Cologne this November.

The European Rotors conference was announced on 21st January at a press event in Cologne. It will combine an open-to-the-public helicopter industry conference and the existing EASA Rotorcraft and VTOL symposium for a catch-all rotary aviation conference.

The three-day conference will run from Tuesday to Thursday, November 10 to 12.

“We are the platform for everything which takes off and lands vertically,” Peter Möller, chairman of EHA told Helicopter Investor, “It is a show organised by the industry, for the industry.

That is what the operators, the OEMs and EASA wanted, just one event with every stakeholder on board and not a couple of different small events all somehow ‘rivaling’ against each other.”

‘What the OEMs and EASA wanted’

With the introduction and growth of the VTOL market over the past few years, several conferences have emerged to capitalise on the trend. But as the roles of eVTOLs seem to complement those of helicopters (with a focus on inter-city transport rather than city-to-city flights), many existing helicopter companies have started investing in the market.

Helicopter OEMs Bell and Airbus are developing their own aircraft, the City Airbus and Bell Nexus respectively. Whilst full-scale eVTOL and autonomous-flight services might be as far as 20 years away, the market is expected to be worth approximately $1.9bn by 2030.

Möller said: “The (far) future will lead into a mixed operation of traditional rotorcraft and eVTOLs as well as manned and unmanned VTOLs. Helicopter operators may change their fleets to offer a mix of both to fulfil their tasks.

“Therefore, it makes sense to have eVTOL/UAM and rotorcraft as well as manned and unmanned vehicles under one roof.”

Traditional view

EHA is confident about the future of eVTOLs and unmanned aircraft but is not losing touch with the traditional helicopter market. In fact, it is working closely with the leading OEMs in the helicopter market – including Airbus Helicopters, Leonardo, Bell, Kopter and Safran – on the three-day event.

Möller said: “Helicopters are still the major group of VTOLs and manufacturers are still investing lots of money in improving the existing fleet and developing new types.

“It will take at least two decades before we will see UAVs flying BLOS (beyond line of sight) coordinated and controlled in the same airspace as manned helicopters. Therefore, our VTOL approach to include all types of vertical aviation operation is to gather knowledge, expertise and innovation from both worlds.”