Aviation analyst Brian Foley is optimistic about prospects for new helicopter sales in the next few years and expects that “sales will trend upward nicely.” However, that will happen only if buyers realize value in helicopter purchases. “That’s contingent upon the manufacturers’ ability to help customers with all the necessary information and justification needed to make their numbers work,” he said.
The coming decade will “usher in a new era of tightened purchase scrutiny,” and while Foley forecasts “plenty of sales to be had…most if not all will require an indisputable, virtually airtight business-case justification. This could prolong the sales process, so smart buyers and sellers will plan further ahead.”
Each segment of the helicopter industry faces challenges, especially related to budget cuts among government agencies. But while the offshore gas and oil industry offers a huge market, companies don’t just buy helicopters to serve this market on a whim, Foley explained. “In fact, their procurement process is probably the most disciplined and analytical of any segment, made possible by their vast management and data resources. If it’s not saving or making money, they’re not interested.”
Corporate aviation could be a bright spot because cost is less of an issue for executives who need to save time. “Still,” he added, “even the largest and most profitable corporations were affected by the economic downturn and many are still postponing purchase decisions.”
For helicopter manufacturers, the key to increased sales is to show that adding to the fleet or replacing older helicopters makes financial sense. “This could include such things as reduced ownership costs or showing how a new model’s additional utility can cut expenses or increase revenue,” Foley noted.