Rotorcraft Update: Helos for homeland defense

 - May 29, 2008, 9:44 AM

It’s a sad fact of economic life that there is often opportunity in tragedy, and while some helicopter industry leaders aren’t necessarily looking to cash in on the worldwide terrorism scare, they have approached the U.S. government with a proposal that would make thousands of commercial helicopters available in times of national crisis. The proposal mirrors the Civilian Reserve Air Fleet (CRAF) system under which the airlines make their fixed-wing aircraft available for airlift when the government needs that sort of extra capacity. Hundreds of airliners were commandeered this way during the 1991 Gulf War, serving as supply and troop transports. The subject of a helo version of CRAF was raised in the course of a daylong meeting the American Helicopter Society (AHS) held in Washington on November 12 to discuss the role of rotorcraft in future homeland security planning. Attended by representatives of NASA, HAI and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the meeting will result in a white paper recommendation as part of its follow-up effort.