Helicopter Association International (HAI) is saddened to announce the passing of Matthew S. Zuccaro, the former president and CEO of the association.
“Matt was one of a kind in our industry,” says current HAI president and CEO James Viola. “Helicopters were part of his life, beginning with his US Army service in Vietnam. Throughout his career, he made safe helicopter operations his priority, and we are a better, stronger and safer industry today because of his efforts on behalf of rotorcraft. Speaking on behalf of our industry, we have lost a good friend who will be missed. We extend our deepest condolences to his wife, Doreen, and his family.”
An HAI member since the early 1980s, Matt was elected to the HAI board of directors in 1987 and served as chairman in 1991. He was named president of HAI in 2005 and retired in January of this year. During HAI Heli-Expo 2020 in Anaheim in January, Matt was honoured with the FAA's Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award, recognising his 50 years of professionalism and skill as a pilot.
Among his many accomplishments, Matt may be best remembered for a column he wrote for Rotor magazine in 2013, encouraging pilots to ‘land the damn helicopter’ in situations where proceeding would endanger themselves and passengers. From that column, HAI's Land & Live programme was born, saving countless lives around the world, a fitting legacy for a man who was passionate about safety in the industry he loved so much.
The National Air Transportation Association (NATA) has joined the aviation community in mourning his passing.
“On behalf of the NATA board of directors and members, I extend my condolences to his family, colleagues and close network of friends. Matt has always been a steadfast partner in advancing the aviation community's shared safety goals and a staunch protector of the industry. His keen sense of humour and willingness to share his wealth of knowledge will be greatly missed,” states NATA president and CEO Timothy Obitts.
NBAA president and CEO Ed Bolen has also released the following statement: “Our thoughts and prayers are with Matt's family and friends at this difficult moment,” Bolen said. “Matt was a patriot, a leader, a consummate professional and a friend, who will be greatly missed.”
Zuccaro received numerous awards and recognitions throughout his long career, including the NBAA Pilot Safety Award and HAI Pilot Safety Award for 10,000 hours of accident- and violation-free flight hours. He was 70.