Deliveries of civil turbine helicopters will recover slowly until they exceed their 2008 peak in 2018 and then reach a demand plateau, according to the Teal Group’s rotorcraft market forecast covering 2013 through 2022. The study predicts that 10,300 civil turbine helicopters worth $60.3 billion will enter service during that period.
Eurocopter will retain the number-one position in value, with AgustaWestland hot on its heels; Bell, at number three, will outsell Sikorsky, says Teal. Demand is driven by high oil prices and a growing need for transportation to offshore rigs, according to analyst Richard Aboulafia. On the supply side, he noted “a proliferation of super-medium twin-engine models entering service in the coming years.” In fact, three of the big four manufacturers are developing helicopters for that segment. Therefore, even if oil prices stay high, there are legitimate concerns about overcapacity, Aboulafia asserted.
This segment–crucial for the manufacturers’ technological progress, balance sheets and image–will see AgustaWestland and Eurocopter neck and neck, according to Aboulafia’s numbers. Some 216 deliveries are forecast for the EC175, versus 184 for the AW189 (including the AW149 military variant). The picture changes, however, when the slightly smaller AW139 is included (694 deliveries between 2013 and 2022). Analysts predict Bell will deliver 144 examples of its super-medium twin, the 525 Relentless, starting in 2017.
Light singles–the Eurocopter AS350/EC130 Ecureuil and the Robinson R66–account for the only civil turbine helicopters expected to exceed 1,000 deliveries each between 2013 and 2022. Meanwhile, the Bell SLS, in the same category, will account for 395 deliveries between 2016 (the projected year for the first delivery) and 2022 in Teal’s crystal ball.
Teal does see a future, albeit modest, for MD Helicopters, expected to deliver slightly more than 20 MD500/600s per year through 2022. It also sees AW609 tiltrotor production starting, at long last, in 2018, with 70 copies of the six- to nine-passenger aircraft being delivered by 2022.