Russian Helicopter Demand Surges

 - February 26, 2014, 9:35 PM

An expert panel of senior Russian rotorcraft executives pointed to forecast surging demand for small and medium helicopters in their market between now and 2018. During the seventh annual “Russian Hour” here at Heli-Expo, Russia’s Helicopter Industry Association pointed to large structural changes under way in both the number and the make-up of the nation’s helicopter market, one that for the moment that continues to be dominated by heavy helicopters.

Between 2014 and 2018, Russia is expected to add 600 civil helicopters to its fleet, with fully 400 of those coming from the light and medium categories, predicted Alexander Kalachev, chairman of the Russian Helicopter Industry Association. Kalachev said the light helicopter market is particularly robust, growing 123 percent since 2009, from 234 to 523 ships in country, while the medium and large sectors grew at a much slower rate during the period, by 4 and 3.2 percent, respectively. However, heavy helicopters continue to dominate the Russian market, accounting for 1,310 of the 2,443 helicopters on the civil registry, or about 54 percent. Light helicopters currently comprise 21 percent of the market and mediums are at 25 percent.

Mediums are expected to make up the bulk of the demand between now and 2018, Kalachev said, driven by the demands of the expanding energy industry.

Kalachev said the influx of new helicopters is outpacing development of the infrastructure required to support them and that Russia is in need of more maintenance and training centers, helipads and helicopter FBOs. “The infrastructure is significantly delayed behind the fleet,” he said.

Alexander Mikheev, general director of Russian Helicopters, said the industry in his country is open to continuing to forge new partnerships with Western airframe and component makers, pointing to ongoing cooperation with companies including AgustaWestland and engine makers Turbomeca and Pratt & Whitney, to augment production of domestic models. “We are always happy to find new partners,” he said.