VAST - Enhancing Vertical Flight Safety

April 4, 2022

The vertical flight industry has long benefited from safety information and resources that have been created by regional safety teams and stakeholders, to reduce accidents worldwide. However, coordination and collaboration between these organisations were often limited or nonexistent, making sharing ideas or information challenging. This disconnect led to siloed, redundant, or conflicting safety initiatives in an industry that depends on clear, reliable safety guidelines.

Many rotorcraft safety organisations were working toward similar goals but lacked a way to work together efficiently to share their combined knowledge, beyond borders and languages.

VAST logo

VAST, the Vertical Aviation Safety Team, is on a mission to remove these silos, enhance worldwide flight operations, and improve the community’s safety culture through the open exchange of timely, relevant, and harmonised global vertical flight safety data. 

Previously known as the International Helicopter Safety Foundation, VAST expanded its partnerships to include all segments of the global vertical flight industry. The organisation leads with the vision of a worldwide vertical aviation community with zero fatal accidents achieved through collaboration and coordination. 

“Vertical aviation is a global endeavour,” says HAI and VAST representative James Viola. “We draw from an international workforce and economy to build, operate, fly, and fix aircraft around the world. It makes sense that improving safety in vertical aviation must also be a global effort.”

Today, VAST is a network of international safety teams, safety authorities, and other industry stakeholders working together to improve global vertical flight safety. The organisation consists of advisors, members, liaisons, a steering committee, and several working groups. VAST’s goal is to maintain international collaboration to exchange ideas freely, without the need for a hierarchy.

“Through participation, we can pool our safety efforts with global partners to create strong safety messages that genuinely resonate with frontline operators, ensuring safe and effective operations every day,” says John Franklin, head of safety promotion at the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA).

VAST’s regional safety teams comprise local rotorcraft safety stakeholders, and the VAST steering committee determines which programs hold the highest priority. The numerous VAST working groups research these priorities to find suitable solutions.

VAST’s Technology Working Group identifies and evaluates safety technology and its potential to reduce accidents and incidents. The group then promotes the technology with the most potential and ensures global consistency in its application.

The Regulatory Working Group reviews and reassesses industry issues related to international rules, regulations, and standards and looks for opportunities to harmonise them. Simultaneously, the Safety Promotion Working Group coordinates with all other VAST working groups to promote projects, deliverables, and messaging. 

“Safety is a core value offering of rapid and dependable air services, and international cooperation on aviation safety by governments and industry groups, through VAST, will make commercial aircraft the safest way to travel,” says Miguel Marin, International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) and VAST regional safety team representative.

Looking ahead, VAST plans to generate awareness of its initiative and continue to share content that enhances the safety of the global VTOL industry. Furthermore, using a data-informed, consensus-based approach, VAST will integrate and globally distribute valued safety data and proven risk-reduction strategies.

“Airbus Helicopters’ chief priority is to enhance aviation safety for the thousands of men and women around the world who are transported in its aircraft every day,” says Gilles Bruniaux, Airbus Helicopters VAST industry representative. “For that, we need strong collaboration between all stakeholders: manufacturers, operators, end users, and authorities—this is exactly why VAST is significant to the worldwide helicopter industry!” 

Learn more about the team at VAST on their website.

Keep up with the latest aviation insights

Subscribe for industry news, delivered direct to your inbox ⤸