The Vertical Flight Society (VFS) has welcomed 36 new companies and 550 new individuals as members of the society over the last year — marking a record growth in membership by 19% and 10%, respectively, the organization reported.
In a press release issued today, VFS credits its growth in membership to the support and resources the society offers its members, including technical resources, talent acquisition, educational opportunities, and networking.
Mike Hirschberg, VFS executive director, said the increase in membership is also a result of the growth of eVTOL aircraft designs and significant developments in military and civil rotorcraft.
“This past year saw steady technical progress and eye-popping financial investments in the leading eVTOL developers,” Hirschberg said. “VFS had estimated $4.5 billion in investments in eVTOL companies from 2010 to 2020. However, last year saw several additional developers go public and/or attract sizeable private investments — the total additional global estimate in 2021 alone was around $6 billion.”
Some of the companies that joined VFS over the past year include Archer Aviation, which checked off a number of milestones to advance its Maker aircraft last year including its most recent hover test flight in December, Elroy Air, which recently announced its expansion into humanitarian aid using its Chaparral hybrid-electric autonomous cargo drone, and Tier 1 Engineering, which continues to convert a Robinson R44 helicopter into an eVTOL aircraft used to deliver life-saving organs.
Since launching its website in 2017, VFS has catalogued more than 590 different eVTOL aircraft from around 350 developers — nearly 200 new designs emerged in 2021 alone, VFS reported. This is significant growth from the dozen eVTOL programs under development five years ago.
The society has been focused on the “Electric VTOL Revolution” since 2014 when it held the world’s first workshop on “Transformative Vertical Flight” electric aircraft. VFS is now planning its ninth annual Electric VTOL Symposium in San Jose, California, from Jan. 25 to 27, with a virtual option for attendees.
As well, VFS also hosts the longest-running vertical flight technical conference in the world. This year’s 78th annual Forum and Technology Display will take place from May 10 to 12 in Fort Worth, Texas.