Rolls-Royce projects deliveries of 15,038 new helicopters between now and 2016, worth an estimated $144 billion, plus another $15 billion for engines.
Scott Crislip, president of the Rolls-Royce helicopter and small gas turbine operation, said those figures represent a significant number of new military helicopter requirements that have surfaced since the previous forecast, released at Heli-Expo last year.
The expected 8,943 military helicopter deliveries during the period represent a little more than 59 percent of the total, with an airframe value of $120 billion and installed engine value of $11.4 billion. Multi-engine medium-lift rotorcraft, primarily troop transport and maritime patrol, constitute the largest military segment, at 45 percent, followed by 18 percent each for intermediate twins (light attack and tactical utility) and single-engine craft such as armed reconnaissance helicopters for the U.S. Army.
The civil forecast closely matches the previous Rolls-Royce projection, with a shallow delivery growth curve from a low of 555 units this year to a peak of 689 in 2016. Single-engine helicopters and light twins will account for 81 percent of the 6,095 civil deliveries, split almost evenly between the two.
Crislip said civil market stability reflects its long-term health, with anticipated new product introductions toward the end of the decade and strong near-term demand from law enforcement agencies. Total value of civil helicopters is put at $24 billion for airframes and $3.6 billion for engines.
He added that Rolls-Royce is being conservative in the forecast, pointing out that it is based on both demand and the industry’s capacity to deliver. “Today the helicopter OEMs are working off their backlogs at full capacity,” he observed.
Crislip said the market for civil helicopters in China and India should strengthen if those nations relax their current highly restrictive flight rules, which limit rotorcraft operations. “India, for instance, requires helicopters to be flown like fixed-wing aircraft,” he said. “They have to fly the same landing pattern, land on the runways and taxi on the taxiways. This naturally limits their utility.”
He predicted that changes, if and when they occur, will be pushed by influential individuals within those countries–high government officials in China and powerful entrepreneurs in India.