Rotor & Wing International

An Optimistic 2018

Thoughts and developments from the editor's desk.

Google “helicopter safety statistics,” and you’ll see that the third of 5.6 million results is a story by Slate titled, “Why are helicopters always crashing?” It is my hope that a year from now, that result would be an R&WI article about significant improvements in helicopter safety.

Out of our top 50 R&WI articles between June and December, 172,000 web visitors contributed 453,000 page views and spent 289,000 minutes consuming our coverage.

It’s concerning that most readers spent the most time reading about a crash. Hopefully 2018 will bring less coverage of such crashes and more of innovation, and cutting-edge aerodynamics and engineering embraced across all segments.

There seems to be a renewed optimism about progress with rotorcraft programs. This issue is my second as R&WI’s editor-in-chief, and though I have peeked at the rotorcraft market during my ongoing tenure with sister publication Avionics, I am now learning about the industry from a new perspective. So far, 2018 could piggyback off a positive-looking 2017 and bring even more promise for original equipment manufacturers (OEM), the supply chain, operators and others.

At R&WI, we see 2018 as a year for growth, innovation and new markets. In our Year in Review, we reflect on those elements. OEMs are planning to bring futuristic aircraft to the market. With the development of new, improved crash-resistant fuel tanks and the continued shift into more instrument flight rules flying, current operations stand for safety improvements. Keith Cianfrani discusses 2017’s safety record in his column.

The offshore industries of wind farming and oil and gas present opportunities, and China was a big buyer in 2017. We suspect 2018 will host much of the same — and even more.

The military market could also see more stimulation. Reuters reported that Germany is looking to procure dozens of heavy-lift helicopters. Reports have also followed India as its navy looks to procure more than 100 rotorcraft. In the U.S., the Air Force is looking to replace its fleet of Bell UH-1Ns. Boeing and Leonardo’s MH-139 is in contention with Lockheed Martin’s new and improved Sikorsky UH-60M. The Army-led Future Vertical Lift program is also responsible for a host of innovative technologies — Bell’s V-280 Valor and a Sikorsky-Boeing team’s SB>1 Defiant could meet milestones in 2018.

Meanwhile, as an avionics enthusiast, I will be interested in following Bell Helicopter’s progress with its pursuit of avionics that function like a modern smartphone — a message emblazoned across the company’s booth at Heli-Expo in Dallas.

This only scratches the surface of what 2018 could bring. What are you looking forward to seeing? Tell us what you want us to cover in the upcoming year. See you in 2018! RWI