The Vertical Flight Society (VFS) is hosting its fourth annual panel on Monday, which will bring top experts together to discuss the challenges, progress and applications that autonomy will enable.

Entitled ‘Progress Towards Autonomous Vertical Flight’, the half-day webinar is sponsored by Near Earth Autonomy and supported by the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI). Moderated by Graham Warwick, Executive Editor for Technology at Aviation Week — the programme will consist of three topic areas: Breaking Down the Need, Development and Application of Autonomy.

The first session starts with a presentation featuring Sanjiv Singh, CEO of Near Earth Autonomy, establishing the framework of why we need to pursue autonomy, followed by a discussion on ‘Enabling Autonomy’ with technology leaders Luuk van Dijk, CEO of Daedalean; Francis Govers, Platform Autonomy Lead at Bell; and Maxime Gariel, CTO of Xwing.

The second session features Gary Gysin, CEO of Wisk, outlining the process for Designing for Autonomy and a panel discussion on applying autonomy with technology leaders Steve Jacobson, CEO of Autonodyne; Dave Merrill, CEO of Elroy Air; and Igor Cherepinsky, Director of Innovations at Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin Company.

And in the final session, Col. Nathan Diller, US Air Force, Director of AFWERX and the Air Force’s Agility Prime lead, will present ‘Applying Autonomy in Operations’.

This will be followed by a panel discussion on “Certifying Autonomy” with technology leaders Daniel Moczydlower, President and CEO of EmbraerX; Wes Ryan, Unmanned and Pilotless Aircraft Technology Lead for the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA); and Steve Cook (Northrop Grumman), representing the work by standards development organization ASTM International.

The annual VFS Autonomous Vertical Flight panel has historically been held at the AUVSI’s XPONENTIAL trade show, which had been planned for the week of 10th August. But due to current Covid-19 restrictions, this year’s event is going virtual.

The panels are intended to educate AUVSI members and XPONENTIAL attendees on the promise and progress of autonomy for vertical flight. With the subsequent postponement, and eventual conversion to a virtual program of this year’s XPONENTIAL, the program is now a stand-alone virtual event, and has expanded to a dozen industry and government experts representing four continents, North America, South America, Europe and Australia/Oceania.

It has been organised by AUVSI and VFS members Ajay Sehgal (KBR) and Barbara Lindauer (Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin Company), and by VFS Director of Strategic Development, Jim Sherman. 

The Vertical Flight Society has worked to advance autonomous vertical flight aviation for more than two decades. Autonomy in aircraft systems has the potential to significantly reduce pilot workload, increase air transportation safety and enable new air transportation markets.

Over the past 75 years, VFS — the world’s only membership organization that spans the global civil/military and manned/unmanned vertical flight community in industry, governments and academia — has played a key leadership role in advancing the industry.

The workshop will take place from 11.30am to 3.30pm EDT. For more information and to register for the event, visit