If helicopter sales at this year’s Heli-Expo had been any better, there might have been an executive conga line snaking its way through the exhibit floor today. Sales reported as of late yesterday had surpassed $732 million, $112 million more than at the same point in the show last year.
If any single OEM is in a position to kick sand, it is Eurocopter (Booth No. 1833). The company reported record sales of 61 aircraft valued at about $432 million, including a hefty order for 30 EC 225 Super Pumas, 16 of which will go to CHC Helicopter of Vancouver, British Columbia. An order for 10 EC 130Bs was placed by Maverick Helicopters of Las Vegas for use in the company’s air-tour operations.
Riding a backlog listed at $11.23 billion, AgustaWestland (Booth No. 529) racked up sales of 48 aircraft at Heli-Expo, including its largest single order for 13 to Sloane Helicopters of Ireland. The Sloane buy was actually the exercise of an option that was part of a 44-ship order placed last year. AgustaWestland orders announced at Heli-Expo 2007 totaled slightly more than $300 million.
Bell Helicopter Textron (Booth No. 1333), another big dog on the market block, described 2006 as “a great year,” and marketing and sales v-p Bob Fitzpatrick added, “We expect the trend to continue and even accelerate in 2007.” Nevertheless, the company declined to reveal the number of orders taken at Heli-Expo’07 pending the approval of parent company Textron.
MD Helicopters (Booth No. 3141), which has struggled in recent years, had an impressive presence at Heli-Expo, marking orders for six helicopters: a first-ever factory-built MD 520N by a Czech operator for personal and corporate use; two MD 520Ns to distributor Eastern Atlantic Helicopters for customers in the UK; an MD Explorer for police aviation services on behalf of an unnamed law enforcement customer; an MD Explorer for Jack Hutchings of Hutchings Automotive of Florida for personal use; and an MD 530F by Paradise Helicopters of Kona, Hawaii, to augment its existing fleet of MD 500Es, for use in tours and utility service. The company delivered its first single-engine fuselage from the new production facility in Monterrey, Mexico, and is ramping up to full production of approximately 20 fuselages this year.
Sikorsky (Booth No. 2339), backed up by a “jumbotron” storm, flashing lights and confetti, unveiled its first search-and-rescue S-92, one of four to be delivered starting later this year to Her Majesty’s Maritime and Coastguard Agency for use in the Northern British Isles and Scotland. At the show, Sikorsky also announced orders for an S-92 and two S-76s, both intended for offshore service by Latin American buyers.
Enstrom Helicopter Corp. (Booth No. 3216), which announced Atlantic Aviation Group of Miami as its newest worldwide dealership member, described Heli-Expo 2007 as “fantastic.” The Menominee, Mich. company took its first order for a turbine-powered 480B equipped with Chelton Flight Systems’ WAAS-capable GPS receiver. A smaller piston-powered 280FX would have been at Heli-Expo, but instead is en route to its new owner in South Florida. While that’s the extent of Enstrom’s on-site sales, a spokesman said the company expects to ink deals for no fewer than 10 helicopters, “most of them 480Bs,” based on activity at the show.
Robinson Helicopters (Booth No. 2715), with revenues up over 2005 despite a minor drop in sales, recorded one order from Prestige Helos for an R44 Raven I and was anticipating orders for two more.