(Photo: Mark Wagner)

Helicopter Association International

What It Is: Helicopter Association International, a 501(c) nonprofit trade group with more than 2,500 organization members, represents aircraft manufacturers, operators, training facilities, and industry support and service providers.

How It Grew: In 1948, a handful of helicopter operators and a Bell Helicopter representative met in California to form an association promoting common interests in the fledgling rotorcraft industry. Initially called the Helicopter Council, it was renamed the California Helicopter Association the following year. In 1951, with membership opened to all manufacturers and U.S. operators, it was renamed again as the Helicopter Association of America (HAA). At the time, it had 17 members operating 50 helicopters.

Through the 1950s, membership and attendance at HAA’s annual meetings grew; and in 1961, with some 85 members, the association became a 501(c) nonprofit. Headquarters moved from Westchester County Airport in New York to Washington, D.C., in 1971, and with the industry expanding globally, HAA rebranded in 1981 as Helicopter Association International (HAI). It relocated to Alexandria, Virginia, its current home, later in that decade. Other notable milestones of the 1980s and 1990s include launches of the Fly Neighborly Program, Helicopter Foundation International (HFI), and Rotor magazine. 

In this century, HAI spearheaded the industry’s response to natural disasters including Hurricane Katrina and Japan’s tsunamis, as well as the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. Programs have expanded to include Land and Live and an online risk-assessment tool, and HAI now has more than a dozen working groups focused on medevac, training, the environment, aerial firefighting, heli-tours, and other operations.

What It Offers:

Advocacy. Lobbies government officials and regulators and participates in international groups and commissions on behalf of the industry.

Accreditation and training. HAI Safety Accreditation program, IS-BAO safety audits, HAI Online Academy courses. 

Events. Heli-Expo, the rotor world’s premier annual trade show, plus conferences and educational events throughout the year.

Scholarships and awards. HFI student-pilot and maintenance-technician scholarships. Nine annual Salute to Excellence honors. 

Publications. Rotor magazine and Rotor Daily.

Notable Transition: Matthew Zuccaro, who has led HAI through remarkable growth as president and CEO since 2005, has announced his retirement, effective June 30, 2020. 


Founded: 1948

Headquarters: Alexandria, Virginia

Staff: About 49

President and CEO: Matthew Zucarro

Website: rotor.org