Helicopter Makers Bullish on Long-term Outlook

 - February 23, 2009, 10:57 AM

Executives at two of the world’s largest helicopter makers insisted at Heli-Expo that the industry can continue to flourish even in the face of a severe economic downturn. Saying the civil rotorcraft market is likely to suffer less from the economic downturn than the business jet market, AgustaWestland CEO Giuseppe Orsi pointed to a $13 billion order backlog for his company and insisted the industry as a whole is “in good shape.” Eurocopter CEO Lutz Bertling yesterday echoed that feeling, adding that continued strong sales of military helicopters such as the U.S. Army UH-72A (based on Eurocopter’s EC 145) will keep order backlogs high. Bertling revealed Eurocopter has an $18 billion order book that accounts for 1,500 helicopters. Orsi, meanwhile, said he is confident the Obama Administration will green light the VH-71 presidential helicopter, costs for which have nearly doubled to $11 billion. The VH-71 is a shared program between AgustaWestland and Lockheed Martin.