Enstrom Helicopter (Booth No. 4810) had its best year on record last year. With 16 helicopters delivered during the year–14 of which were Enstrom 480B turbine models priced at more than $1 million each–the Menominee, Mich.-based helicopter manufacturer earned its highest annual revenue in its 52-year history.
“[It] was our best year ever from a performance standpoint, including revenue, sales and margin figures,” said Enstrom president and CEO Jerry Mullins, who declined to state the actual figures during an interview with AIN. “Because of [the good year] we were able to invest in new equipment to reduce manufacturing costs.” Mullins said Enstrom is expected to deliver 22 helicopters, most of them turbines, this year. The strong international military market is fueling the deliveries.
“The U.S. market is cold, but the international market seems to be doing very well,” he said, estimating that approximately 150 Enstrom 480Bs are flying in 18 countries.
“People are still cautious about buying,” said Mullins. “Some of the countries are struggling, too, but the military doesn’t necessarily follow the same trends. The fact that we’re dealing with foreign militaries has helped us during the last couple of years.”
In fact, 12 of Enstrom’s 16 deliveries were to foreign militaries. The company delivered two 480Bs to the Japanese Ground Self Defense Force as part of a 30-ship order that extends through 2014. As part of that order, Enstrom is scheduled to deliver eight 480Bs in 2012, 10 in 2013 and the final 10 in 2014.
Enstrom also delivered ten 480B turbines to the Royal Thai Army last year as part of a 16-ship order that will conclude this year. Used primarily for flight training with some utility roles, the Royal Thai 480Bs were outfitted with upgraded military radios and avionics, search lights, cargo hooks and other options that increased each unit’s purchase price to well above the $1.064 million base price. “The shipment of four highly advanced 480Bs in December 2011 represented the single biggest shipment, dollar-wise, in Enstrom’s history,” Mullins said. “We have four more completed, which are scheduled for customer acceptance shortly after Heli-Expo.”
Thailand took advantage of the utility capability of its new Enstrom helicopters shortly after their arrival for transportation of military personnel assisting disaster relief efforts during the floods that claimed more than 600 lives during the region’s monsoon season from July through November. “Our employees took great pride in the news that our helicopters were assisting the people of Thailand and making a difference,” said Mullins. “That’s why we build them.”
Besides the three- to five-place 480B turbine helicopter, Enstrom also builds three-seat piston-powered F28F and 280FX training helicopters. Law enforcement variants of the 480B (the Guardian) and the F28F (the Sentinel) are also available.