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HAI becomes Vertical Aviation International

By Jen Nevans | February 27, 2024

Estimated reading time 6 minutes, 32 seconds.

In a bid to keep up with the expanding vertical flight industry, Helicopter Association International (HAI) has rebranded itself as Vertical Aviation International (VAI), unveiling its new name and logo at the association’s annual Heli-Expo tradeshow in Anaheim, California.

“The vertical aviation industry is expanding rapidly with new technologies taking to the skies. We are committed to bringing together all segments of the industry,” Nicole Battjes, the 2023-24 chair of VAI’s board of directors, said to media on Feb. 26.

Nicole Battjes, the 2023-24 chair of Vertical Aviation International’s board of directors, and James Viola, president and CEO, at a press briefing on Feb. 26. Brent Bundy Photo

Battjes said it took three years to carefully craft the organization’s new identity, and called the rebranding as a way for it to become more inclusive and to give the association legs to amplify its voice in representing the entire industry.  

Along with the new logo, VAI has also renamed its tradeshow to Verticon — the first edition of that rebranded show will take place in Dallas, Texas, in March 2025.

Providing a glimpse into what 2025 Verticon could look like, Battjes said “the heart of the show will remain the same,” but as VAI’s membership expands, attendees can expect to see the “latest and greatest technologies and vertical-capable aircraft.”

Speaking to Vertical about the rebranding, James Viola, president and CEO of VAI, said the “helicopter” term in its previous name was limiting and didn’t represent the entire industry.

“If you fly it, fix it, maintain it, or help with the infrastructure, we want to make sure that we are the association representing you,” Viola said. “As far as a rebranding, number one was that we wanted to make sure that Vertical Aviation International represents all of the capabilities of vertical aviation.”

This includes manufacturers, operators, suppliers, pilots, maintenance technicians, and other aviation professionals who serve vertical or short takeoff and landing aircraft.

The association decided to remove that limiting word with one that encompassed all vertical-lift technology — big or small.

The organization has supported the advanced air mobility (AAM) sector through its AAM roadmap established two years ago. Viola said the rebranding is the organization’s way of “cementing” the work it has been doing in this area.

“Everything we have done in the last 75 years, we will continue to do. We got rid of the limiting ‘helicopter’ word, but we did not get rid of helicopters,” Viola told Vertical. “Helicopters are not going away. That’s one of the things I really have to over emphasize. Fifty years from now, there will still be helicopters.”

Along with the new logo, Vertical Aviation International has also renamed its tradeshow to Verticon — the first edition of that rebranded show will take place in Dallas, Texas, in March 2025. Brent Bundy Photo

In fact, Viola believes that traditional helicopters and AAM can work together to achieve common goals. With AAM often getting the spotlight as the new and novel technology in aviation, “we can work together as a community. What’s good for them is good for us as well. We have to work together. It’s not them versus us at all.”

Viola said helicopters have over 42 missions that they carry out, and “these additional vehicles will do three to five supportive missions in the future. We want to make sure that we’re welcoming in the additional players.”

Going forward, VAI plans to continue to work closely with other organizations like the Vertical Flight Society (VFS), which also underwent a rebranding of its own in 2018 from the American Helicopter Society.

“The Vertical Flight Society is on the engineering side. I have been a member of the Vertical Flight Society for a long time and love having those in-depth conversations with the engineers that build the things that I fly,” Viola said. “We have a great relationship, and we’ll continue that relationship.”

VAI started in 1948 as California-based Helicopter Council, representing six companies in what was then a very new industry. Today, VAI represents the global vertical aviation industry, including all aircraft capable of vertical or short takeoff and landing. VAI’s new website, verticalavi.org, is planned to launch this summer.

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