Turbomeca Engines has become a major player on a highly competitive field in recent years after decades spent primarily as a powerplant supplier to European helicopter manufacturers. As the chief provider of engines all across the Eurocopter line, Turbomeca has increased its North American presence on pace with American Eurocopter’s penetration of Western Hemisphere markets. Emeric d’Arcimoles, Turbomeca chairman and CEO, recently shared with HAI Convention News some of his observations regarding the world helicopter market and his company’s place in it.
What do you see as the prospects for near-term and later growth for Turbomeca in the world helicopter market?
We expect growth through 2010, reaching an average of 1,500 engines a year. Our delivery figure last year was 374 engines. Our forecast represents a large increase, but we do have the orders booked today. Offshore, EMS and the military are our strong areas, and the world financial crisis will not affect these markets. Tourism represents about 8 percent of our activity, and that segment of our business may be affected, but this will have little overall effect on Turbomeca’s business.
Are you seeing increasing market potential in China, India and the rest of Asia?
Yes, I think we consider business increasing in India and also in China. We are also projecting that there will be stability in the U.S. market.
What is Turbomeca’s share of the world helicopter market?
It is 46 percent worldwide.
Has that changed in the past decade?
There has been a big change. In the past six years we have doubled our consolidated turnover [revenue] from (500 million to just under (1 billion approximately. It’s hard to say exactly, because the relative value of the dollar and euro is changing constantly. That increase has come mainly in the military segment due to fleet replacement campaigns, and also re-engining of older helicopters.
The other segments where we grew a lot are the offshore business and EMS. Growth in the EMS segment will be slower outside North America, because the insurance that pays for medical transport is not so available in other countries.
Do you see a strong increase in demand for military helicopters in light of the current shift from conventional warfare to fighting terrorism throughout the world?
Certainly. When we watch the TV now, we don’t see fighters and bombers. We see a lot of helicopters making quick transport of troops for rapid response. There will definitely be an increased demand for helicopters due to the changing nature of warfare.
Do you anticipate a demand for larger helicopters and hence larger engines?
We believe the market for the largest helicopters is not enough to support an independent manufacturing program, but will require collaboration between European and American manufacturers such as those we see now between Bell and Agusta and Sikorsky and Eurocopter. Such helicopters, if they emerge from collaborative partnerships, will require larger engines than the 2,650-shaft-horsepower RTM 322, the most powerful that Turbomeca produces today. Perhaps if the demand materializes such engines might be made by our sister group, Snecma.
In which of Turbomeca’s seven engine families do you foresee the greatest growth potential for the next five to 10 years?
Ardiden. It will be a successful engine because today, you know, in the helicopter business there is a gap between the light helicopter and medium helicopter categories. The engine for a helicopter to fill this gap is the Ardiden, a new engine with a brand new technology.