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Tue, Apr 04, 2023

VFS 2023 Group Award Recipients Announced

The Votes are In …

The Fairfax, Virginia-based Vertical Flight Society (VFS) is a non-profit technical society committed to the advancement of vertical flight. The Society comprises over one-hundred corporate and 28 educational members, and advocates on behalf of rotorcraft technology to government bodies and the general public.

On 22 March 2023, The Vertical Flight Society announced the group recipients of its prestigious 2023 awards. For nearly eighty-years, the VFS awards program has paid tribute to outstanding leaders within the vertical flight sector and served as a catalyst for engendering technological advances. The winners of 2023’s VFS group awards will be recognized at the 79th Annual Grand Awards Banquet on Thursday, 18 May 2023, during the Society’s annual forum and technology display in West Palm Beach, Florida.

VFS Executive Director Mike Hirschberg stated: “Since 1944, VFS has been recognizing the most significant accomplishments in vertical flight. This year’s group award winners highlight the incredible capabilities of vertical flight aircraft and those who develop and operate them.”

The Society’s Captain William J. Kossler, USCG Award is given for the greatest achievement in the practical application or operation of vertical flight aircraft, the value of which has been demonstrated by actual service in the preceding 18-months. This year, the Kossler Award is presented to two groups that exemplify the lifesaving capabilities of vertical flight.

  • The US Army 3-82 General Support Aviation Brigade (GSAB) Task Force Talon rescued and evacuated nearly 10,000 persons during the evacuation of Kabul under enemy fire in August 2021.
  • The Crew of the US Coast Guard Rescue Helicopter 6036 rescued two aboard Fishing Vessel Glory in February 2022 sinking in Sitka Sound, Alaska, under heavy rain, fog and 55-kt (100-km/h) winds with violent downdrafts.

The Grover E. Bell Award recognizes an outstanding research and experimentation contribution to the field of vertical flight development. This year’s recipient is the Autonomous Sustainment Technologies for Rotorcraft Operations (ASTRO) Rotors team—comprising personnel of the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command (DEVCOM) Aviation & Missile Center (AvMC) Technology Development Directorate (TDD) and Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin Company. ASTRO is honored for its experimental contribution to the development and test demonstrations of technologies for automated in-flight rotor track and balance (RTB).

Elbit Systems of America is this year’s recipient of the VFS Supplier Excellence Award. Subject award is given to a supplier which, through the quality, innovativeness, and cost-effective technology of its products, has made a notable contribution to the improvement of the state of the art of vertical flight aircraft. Elbit’s support and partnership with The Boeing Company on Apache production and fielding of its products, as well as development and support of new products on alternate vertical lift programs and efforts, has been exemplary.

The Robert L. Pinckney Award is given in recognition of notable achievement in manufacturing research and development for vertical flight aircraft or components recently brought to fruition. This year’s recipient is the Strap Pack Data Collection Electronic Logging System (DCELS) Deployment Team at The Boeing Company, which successfully developed and implemented DCELS software to connect an advanced torque-tool measurement system and other hand tools directly to a records keeping system. The streamlined process facilitated significant time savings and the removal of a second inspector, saving the Apache program nearly $700,000 annually.

The Harry T. Jensen Award is given for an outstanding contribution to the improvement of reliability, maintainability, safety or logistics support through improved design or technical achievement. This year’s award is given to Sikorsky’s 5G Radar Altimeter Team. Working with the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) 5G Task Force and other US government agencies, associations, and radar altimeter manufacturers, the Sikorsky/Lockheed Martin team made several breakthrough innovations toward mitigating the 5G radar altimeter interference issue—an achievement that has contributed to the continued safe operation of both fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraft in US airspace.

The Frederick L. Feinberg Award is presented to the pilot or crew of a vertical flight aircraft who/that demonstrated outstanding skills or achievement. This year’s award is given to Alexander Neuhaus and Antoine van Gent for the exceptional achievement of landing the Airbus H145 five-bladed prototype helicopter on the second-highest mountain in the Americas — the 22,837-ft (6,961-m) high Aconcagua mountain in the Andes mountain range in Argentina. This set an unprecedented milestone for twin-engine helicopters in a particularly challenging high-altitude environment.

The Leonardo International Fellowship Award recognizes significant contributions to international vertical flight cooperation. This year’s winner is the MH-139A Supplemental Type Certification (STC) International Test Team. The team, which comprises Leonardo and Boeing personnel, executed flight testing in support of the MH-139A expanded envelope, doing so amid challenging programmatic and schedule constraints. The test planning and development effort involved over a year of technical collaboration between Boeing engineers in Philadelphia and Seattle, and Leonardo engineers in Italy and the UK.

The Vertical Flight Heritage Sites Program is intended to recognize and help preserve locations with the most noteworthy and significant contributions made in both the theory and practice of helicopter and other VTOL aircraft technology. This year, the Sikorsky Development Flight Center in West Palm Beach, Florida, will be recognized as the test site for dozens of significant research, development, and certification programs. The installation has been  home to a significant number of rotorcraft technology breakthroughs, including fly-by-wire flight control systems, next-generation coaxial rotor development, and the practical demonstration of full autonomous flight. Numerous helicopter world speed and altitude records have been set at the Florida facility.

Founded in 1943 as the American Helicopter Society, the organization known today as the Vertical Flight Society is a global non-profit society comprising engineers, scientists and others professionals plying their expertise and experience to the advancement of vertical flight. For more than eight-decades, the Society has championed rotorcraft technology, advocated for rotorcraft safety, and functioned as the primary forum for the interchange of information pertaining to vertical flight.

FMI: www.vtol.orgwww.vtol.org/awards


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