Vertical Aviation Safety Team

Who We Are

The Vertical Aviation Safety Team (VAST) is a public–private initiative to enhance worldwide flight operations safety in all segments of the vertical flight industry. Team members comprise international regional safety teams; safety authorities, including civil aviation authorities; and other industry stakeholders that work to improve global vertical flight safety.

  • International regional safety teams, which consist of national and industry stakeholders, are formed to improve the safety of civil vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) operations in their respective national airspace systems.
  • Safety authorities include national civil aviation authorities (such as the US FAA and the CAAs of the United Kingdom, Sudan, and Colombia); jurisdictional agencies (ICAO and EASA, for example); and nationally recognized safety organizations (such as the National Transportation Safety Board in the United States, the Transportation Safety Board in Canada, and the Transport Accident Investigation Commission in New Zealand).
  • Other industry stakeholders include OEMs, training providers, operators, service providers, and vertical flight industry associations such as Helicopter Association International, the European Helicopter Association, and the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International.

The organization chart below illustrates how regional VTOL safety teams and global VTOL stakeholders will use the VAST organization to collaborate on improving the safety of vertical flight.

Why VAST?

In the past, international aviation safety information has tended to stay within separate organizational and national silos. VAST intends to break down these silos so that aviation safety information can flow freely globally. To achieve this end, VAST is engaging its regional safety teams to receive, integrate, harmonize, and distribute aviation safety data, programs, and recommendations worldwide. Additionally, VAST serves as an arbiter between the regional safety teams to ensure collaboration on and coordination of these initiatives, as well as the sharing of final output.

Strategic Approach

In its strategy for enhancing operational safety in vertical flight, VAST:

  • Is the international face and voice of vertical flight and fosters and promotes the industry’s growth through safety initiatives
  • Receives, integrates, harmonizes, and distributes aviation safety data; develops risk reduction efforts globally; and works to reduce duplication of effort
  • Uses a data-informed, consensus-based approach to define, evaluate, and support the implementation of safety enhancements based on data analyses and safety intelligence
  • Coordinates and supports the actions of regional safety teams, aviation authorities, and industry stakeholders
  • Serves as the facilitator between the regional safety teams to foster collaboration and coordination across safety initiatives as well as the sharing of final outputs.

Previous Global Aviation Safety Initiatives

In 1997, the White House Commission on Aviation Safety and Security set a 10-year goal of reducing the US fatal aviation accident rate by 80%. At the same time, the commission identified the need for strong government–industry partnerships to support the aviation system of the future. This effort resulted in the organization that became the Commercial Aviation Safety Team (CAST), which focuses on commercial air travel.

In 2005, the international helicopter community—comprising manufacturers, operators, associations, and regulators from around the world—came together to create the International Helicopter Safety Team (IHST), with a similar goal as CAST. Ten years later, the IHST recalibrated with a vision toward zero accidents and, in 2019, the IHST was legally incorporated as the International Helicopter Safety Foundation (IHSF).

In the past 16 years, IHST/IHSF has grown to be a globally recognized organization dedicated to the advancement of safety in the global helicopter community. The IHSF’s regional teams have contributed in a very significant way to the development and promotion of safety and the sharing of safety information between and within countries from around the world.

Recent global changes to the complexion of the vertical flight community and the future of vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) aircraft, including the coming of age of civil tiltrotor technology and, soon, autonomous passenger- and cargo-carrying VTOL operations, necessitated the rebranding of the IHSF once again. To expand its public–private efforts and to enhance worldwide flight operational safety in all segments of the vertical flight industry, in 2021 the foundation organized under a new charter and became the Vertical Aviation Safety Team.