Crystal-ball gazing is a major part of any trade show. Heli-Expo has traditionally been the stage for the presentation of the Rolls-Royce/Teal Group’s 10-year forecast of worldwide turbine-engine helicopter demand. Overall, this year’s forecast calls for a
5-percent increase over the sales rates predicted last year, foreseeing total turbine helicopter deliveries of 10,407 over the years 2003 to 2012.
The modest increase is attributable to the onset of major military programs over the period as measured alongside the downturn from which the industry is currently suffering. On a unit sales basis, the expected split between civil and military sales is predicted to amount to 50-50. The heavy hand of military sales on the revenue side of the equation is evidenced by the prognostication that this expected 50-50 unit sales split will result in a 22-78 revenues split, with the far costlier military helos contributing the lion’s share of the economic pie.
Civil helicopter sales are projected to total 5,161 units over the next 10 years, a
7-percent increase over last year’s forecast. This increase is based upon an expected improvement in the overall economic condition, along with increased orders to fulfill sales to paramilitary and homeland defense organizations. Turbine singles (59 percent of the market) and light twins (22 percent) will dominate this market. Annual deliveries are expected to grow slowly from a low of 497 worldwide this year to a peak of 533 yearly by 2012.
The year just ended probably would have gone on record as a growth year if not for the lingering economic effects and the ensuing war and peace uncertainties. The commercial malaise is reflected in the slump in piston helo sales, a decline largely, but not entirely, offset by the strength in paramilitary sales.
Good news can be found in the average age (27 years) of the Western world’s civil turbine-powered helicopter fleet. Given that advanced age, the prospects for fleet replenishment remain good, presenting positive prospects for continuing sales of available products. The likelihood of new product introduction remains promising, provided sales of available designs stay strong.
Total civil hours flown throughout the period are expected to increase slightly, putting a demand on the extant fleet. New design development has “continued apace” over the last five years, with models from Agusta, MDHI and Eurocopter supplying the market with its newest blood.