Helicopter manufacturers will deliver between 4,800 and 5,500 new turbine-powered civilian models in the next five years, Honeywell (Booth No. 6502) predicts in its annual market forecast. It expects that medium twin-engine helicopters will increase their share of the overall market, driven by new models such as the AgustaWestland AW189 medium and Bell 525 Relentless super medium twins.
“It looks like a good place to be right now,” Charles Park, Honeywell’s market analyst, told AIN. “What the operators told us was that for the most part, far more operators plan on increasing their flight activity then those who reported they were going to cut back on flight operations. The actual usage of the platforms should increase as well.”
Honeywell surveyed 1,000 flight departments that operate 2,800 turbine-powered as well as some piston-powered helicopters in compiling the forecast, its 16th. Park said the company also assessed the demand from large fleet operators like PHI, Bristow Helicopters and Air Methods, which could not respond to the survey in the format Honeywell used.
Based on operators’ expectations, Honeywell projects the industry will deliver 1,000 or more helicopters annually over the rolling forecast period, in line with what it predicted last year. The numbers reflect an ongoing recovery from the post-recessionary period of 2010, when deliveries bottomed out at around 750 helicopters. “We would call it stable demand at a pretty high level,” Park said.
Latin America remains the largest market for helicopter replacement and addition rates, representing 32 percent of the world market, according to Honeywell. Purchase plans in Brazil, an important part of that market, remain steady. “This is a country with a large number of turbine-powered helicopters and a diversity of needs for those kinds of helicopters as well as an acceptance of the use of helicopters in many roles,” Park said. The next largest regional markets in terms of helicopter purchase plans are: the Middle East and Africa (25 percent); Asia Pacific (24 percent); Europe (19 percent); and North America (11 percent).
As a class, intermediate and medium twin-engine helicopters are poised to expand as a share of the total market, helped by orders from large fleet operators. PHI is the launch customer for Bell’s 525 Relentless, a model the manufacturer launched at Heli-Expo 2012. Bristow is the launch customer for the AgustaWestland AW189, unveiled at the Paris Air Show in 2011. Honeywell ranks intermediate and medium twins second to light single-engine helicopters in terms of expected purchases at 33 percent over the forecast period. Light single- and twin-engine helicopters together account for 66 percent of expected purchases.
In terms of how operators will use helicopters, Park noted “a slight pull-back” in corporate transport, which represents 31 percent of all applications. Usage rates for law enforcement, oil and gas, emergency medical services, search and rescue and general utility will remain steady.