1.0 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 aviation industry. Team members comprise international regional safety teams; safety authorities, including civil aviation authorities; and other industry stakeholders that work to improve worldwide vertical aviation safety.

  • Regional safety teams, which may include representatives from national or transnational safety authorities (see description below), and industry stakeholder groups seeking to improve the safety of civil vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) operations in their respective airspace systems.
  • Safety authorities are invited to participate in VAST safety activities or attend as observers. Safety Authorities include the International Civil Aviation Organization, a specialized United Nations agency; national civil aviation authorities (such as the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the civil aviation authorities (CAAs) of the United Kingdom, Sudan, and Colombia); and other international agencies (European Union Aviation Safety Agency, for example); and nationally recognized safety organizations (such as the National Transportation Safety Board in the US and other official state investigative entities).
  • Other industry stakeholders include OEMs, training providers, operators, service providers, and vertical aviation industry associations such as Helicopter Association International, the European Helicopter Association, the Vertical Flight Society, and the Association for Uncrewed Vehicle Systems International.

2.0 Vision

The VAST vision is a worldwide vertical aviation community with zero fatal accidents achieved through cooperation and collaboration.

3.0 Mission

The organization’s mission is to continuously improve the worldwide vertical aviation community’s safety culture and operational performance through collaboration, harmonization, coordination, and implementation of global safety information, resources, and programs while supporting regional safety team data that promote vertical aviation’s societal contributions.

4.0 Goals

VAST has four chief goals:

  • Establish VAST as the world’s most trusted source for vertical aviation safety information and resources
  • Establish working groups to represent key segments and issues relevant to the global VTOL industry
  • Identify, collect, harmonize, and deliver centralized access to safety information and resources from participating stakeholder entities
  • Provide and coordinate a forum where regional safety teams, safety authorities, and other industry stakeholders can work together on vertical aviation safety issues.

5.0 Background

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, attendees at the International Helicopter Safety Symposium created the International Helicopter Safety Team (IHST), modeled after CAST, to reduce the helicopter accident rate. Fourteen years later, the IHST transitioned to the International Helicopter Safety Foundation (IHSF). To expand its public–private efforts and to enhance worldwide flight operational safety in all segments of the vertical aviation industry, in 2021 the IHSF was rebranded as VAST.

6.0 Strategic Approach

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

  • Is the international face and voice of vertical aviation 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 arbiter between the regional safety teams to foster collaboration and coordination across safety initiatives as well as the sharing of final outputs.

7.0 Structure

VAST includes two advisors who advise on all aspects of the team. VAST members may include representatives from a diverse mix of global aviation safety stakeholders, including regional aviation safety teams, authorities, and industry associations. Liaisons from these groups bring ideas, content, suggestions, and proposals from their organizations to the two advisors and the VAST Steering Committee.

VAST maintains various working groups to collect, analyze, distribute, and promote integrated aviation safety data and safety programs. The steering committee comprises one advisor, the cochairs of the working groups, an advisor-assigned administrative support person, and a communications support person. (See Appendix C for the VAST Organizational Chart.)

The principles for participation in VAST are contained in Appendix A.

7.1 VAST Advisors

VAST has two advisors, one representing the industry–operator community and one representing the safety authorities. (see Appendix B). The VAST advisors should exhibit the ability to:

  • Advocate on behalf of the VAST members by establishing and maintaining relationships with all levels of vertical aviation stakeholders (from the executive level to the working level)
  • Contribute to strategic-level decisions and set VAST strategy based on findings from data-driven analyses,
  • Understand past challenges to improving vertical aviation safety and offer constructive solutions to overcoming these challenges to implement working group data, recommendations, and safety programs
  • Arbitrate conflicts and make decisions on all aspects of VAST’s program, including the final determination on working group recommendations.

The advisors and their organization must have a global reach. For the authority this would be the International Civil Aviation Organization. There are various industry organizations that have global outreach. Initially the industry advisor will serve a three year term and the Authority advisor representative will serve a two year term. Thereafter each advisor will serve a two year term, thereby staggering the regularly scheduled replacement of the advisors.

7.2 VAST Liaisons

Liaisons are leaders designated by the regional safety teams and other vertical aviation global safety stakeholders. They bring to the VAST Steering Committee ideas, content, suggestions, and proposals from their organizations for consideration and implementation. Liaisons may also choose to serve in, or designate other representatives to serve in, VAST working groups.

7.3 VAST Support

The VAST Steering Committee has two support positions—administrative support and communications support. These positions are assigned by the advisors.

7.4 VAST Steering Committee

The VAST Steering Committee coordinates work between the team’s working groups. The committee compiles and integrates the ideas, content, suggestions, and proposals from the VAST liaisons and routes them to the appropriate working group for disposition. The committee also recommends projects for the Special Projects Working Group.

The steering committee comprises VAST’s working group co-chairs, the administrative and communications support personnel, and the advisors. Steering committee members designate two co-leads (normally, one from the industry stakeholders and one from the safety authorities) to support compliance with this charter. Steering committee voting members are the working group co-chairs and the advisors.

7.5 Working Groups

Working groups are staffed by members of the regional safety teams or other global VTOL safety stakeholders to collect, analyze, distribute, and promote integrated aviation safety data and safety programs. Each working group will be managed by two co-chairs, normally one from the industry stakeholders and one from the aviation authorities. Working group co-chairs facilitate activities of working groups and project teams. Working groups also make recommendations on the distribution of data, information, safety, and safety programs. A list and description of the working groups are contained in Appendix D.

Working groups may be formed, suspended, or dissolved to accommodate vertical aviation safety needs. Recommendations to form, suspend or dissolve a working group are brought to the Steering Committee. The steering committee considers the request and brings the recommendation to the Advisors for a final decision.

Working Group co-chair positions have a two-year term limit. Co-chairs approaching the end of their term may voluntarily elect to serve additional one-year extensions if approved by a majority vote of the working group. This one-year extension must also be approved by a majority vote of the Steering Committee. If a co-chair resigns or is unable to complete his/her term of office, the remaining co-chair of the working group shall initiate a working group vote to elect a member to serve the remaining term or a new term for the vacated office There are no limits to the number of voting members in any one working group except that only one (1) representative from any company or organization may be a voting member of an individual working group. The two co-chairs will be voting members. The working group may bring in other non-voting experts to advise on technical and other issues. Co-chairs of working groups are automatically considered non-voting advisors to all other working groups.

8.0 Meetings and Voting

VAST holds four types of meetings, according to the participating group. The frequency of meetings noted may be modified as needed to facilitate ongoing activities.

  • Advisor meetings: VAST advisors will meet quarterly to support VAST’s mission and activities.
  • Steering committee meetings: The VAST Steering Committee will meet quarterly.
  • Working group meetings: VAST working groups will meet monthly.
  • All hands meetings: VAST all hands meetings will occur annually.

Most meetings will take place electronically (via telephone or video conference). One meeting each year should be face-to-face and coincide with HAI HELI-EXPO®.

8.1 Meetings

An agenda will be made available at least three days prior to meetings. Meeting notes will be taken during each meeting. For the working groups and steering committee, designated co-chairs are responsible for the development and distribution of the agenda and the taking of meeting notes. Agendas and meeting notes for all hands and advisors’ meetings will be supported by the steering committee’s administrative and communications support personnel. Steering committee, all hands, and face-to-face meetings may include, but are not limited to, the following agenda items:

  • Call to order
  • Roll call of members present
  • Introductions: industry and government advisors and co-chairs
  • Review previous-meeting action items; complete discussion, decision-making, or voting as appropriate
  • Accident review
    • Working group reports
    • Outreach update
    • New business
  • item review (include the following for each item)
    • Action/milestone item
    • Action/milestone date
    • A primary point of contact
  • Upcoming VAST meetings
    • All hands
    • Face-to-face (date, time, desired agenda items)
    • Upcoming events VAST representatives will attend
    • Announcements
    • Adjournment

8.2 Process and Voting

All hands and face-to-face meetings generally will be governed by Robert’s Rules of Order. Motions are used to introduce new pieces of business or propose decisions or actions. A second motion must be made, after which there is limited discussion and, if applicable, a vote.

VAST steering committee and working group decisions are approved by a simple majority, unless special circumstances dictate otherwise. It is encouraged that consensus be built before voting. A meeting quorum is achieved with two-thirds of voting members.

If any vote decision is required, each voting member will be polled and his or her vote recorded. Voting may be conducted in person, in writing (including e-mail), or by other electronic means (such as via telephone or video conference). If a voting member is unable to attend, his or her vote may be submitted electronically or by proxy. Only another voting member may serve as proxy. If a proxy is voting, the member will inform the working group co-chairs and advisors (if appropriate) in writing of the name of the proxy and the specific subject on which the individual has the authority to vote.

9.0 Modifications to This Charter

The VAST advisors have the authority and responsibility to modify this charter in order to meet the team’s goals as necessary. Modifications may be in the form of an appendix to this charter and should be signed by both VAST advisors.

Appendix A: Principles of VAST Participation

VAST’s strength lies in its extensive international membership, active member participation, commitment to safety, and ability to initiate change. Voluntary collaboration among key stakeholders in helicopter safety has proven effective in reducing fatal accident rates. VAST will maintain an effective and responsive infrastructure to ensure a high level of commitment, collaboration, responsibility, and a consistent approach to issues. This infrastructure will ensure that VAST has the necessary processes in place to provide consistent, effective leadership in the important task of improving vertical aviation safety.

VAST members (regional safety teams, aviation authorities, industry stakeholders, and regional vertical aviation industry associations) will provide the resources to support VAST’s efforts within reasonable budgetary constraints. Each VAST member shall be responsible for providing personnel as well as organizational time, travel, and effort. VAST will adopt processes that maximize utilization of preexisting vertical aviation safety initiatives.

VAST members may designate alternate representatives to facilitate consistent organizational participation. Other individuals and observers may attend meetings to report on or discuss VAST actions, or to provide direct administrative support to VAST members. VAST members will, as practical:

  • Come to meetings prepared, having reviewed pre-meeting materials, and ready to engage and make decisions
  • Complete assigned tasks
  • Maintain communications and coordination with parent organizations or constituencies
  • Deliberate and raise issues
  • Actively support VAST decisions and enlist parent-organization support
  • Be prepared to commit personal time and energy to VAST priorities
  • Be prepared to commit time and resources from their parent organization
  • Share parent-organization input with other VAST members
  • Work to minimize or eliminate duplication of effort
  • Use approved VAST presentations to represent VAST’s objectives and/or products to external organizations
  • Stay focused on the VAST vision, goal, and strategic approach
  • Recognize and monitor the actions of each working group
  • Review, approve, and endorse safety products

Appendix B: Advisors

Industry Representative: Tim Rolfe, Chief Executive Officer, HeliOffshore, Ltd.

Safety Authorities Representative: Ian Knowles, International Civil Aviation Organization

Appendix C: Organization Chart

Appendix D: Working Groups

D1.0 Co-Chairs

Each working group has two co-chairs, normally one from the industry stakeholders and one from the aviation authorities. Working group co-chairs are appointed by their respective working group members.

D2.0 Technology Working Group

The VAST Technology Working Group identifies and evaluates the applicability of safety technologies as they pertain to the existing global helicopter fleet and their potential application to emerging rotorcraft and other vertical flight aircraft. The working group will promote the integration of promising new safety technologies and foster harmonization of international safety efforts.

D3.0 Regulations Working Group

The Regulations Working Group reviews and assesses industry issues related to the implementation of vertical aviation rules, regulations, standards, and supporting documents.

D4.0 Safety Promotion Working Group

The Safety Promotion Working Group supports VAST’s goal of becoming the world’s most trusted industry source, recognized for consistent, reliable, and accessible delivery of valued and diverse VTOL safety information and resources.

D5.0 Special Projects Working Group

The Special Projects Working Group works with and supports projects conducted by the regional safety teams and aviation authorities. The group ensures the harmonization of these projects to promote consistency among and between regional safety teams, vertical aviation associations, and aviation authorities. This may require working with other VAST working groups. The Special Projects Working Group will be active as needed.

Currently there are two special projects:

 D5.1 Helicopter Safety Rating

Aviation authorities and regional safety teams have established or are developing vertical flight safety ratings schemas. The Helicopter Safety Rating Special Projects Working Group will work with the aviation authorities and regional safety teams to harmonize these schemas into a consistent program as much as is practical.

D5.2 VAST Event Support

In order to continually improve the worldwide vertical aviation community’s safety culture, reduce accidents, and meet the VAST vision, the VAST will continue to seek opportunities to exchange vital safety information through multiple outlets. The VAST Event Support Working Group will work with the FAA, other aviation authorities, and international partners in the development, expansion, management, promotion, and conduct of safety conferences, events, seminars, meetings, symposiums, etc. where vertical aviation safety is a component.