Call it the decade of “skies opening” in greater China, or, if you are a helicopter OEM call it the decade of sales opportunities. If you are involved with helicopters in greater China today the excitement and growth is palpable. Last year the entire fleet (465 helicopters, 424 based in mainland China) grew by 20 percent, according to the Asian Sky Group Greater China Civil Helicopter Fleet Report, released during Heli-Expo 2014.
Lease Corporation International (LCI) of Dublin, Ireland, announced signing orders for helicopters here at Heli-Expo 2014 worth almost $1 billion: the orders include a contract with AgustaWestland for as many as 18 helicopters valued at more than $280 million and a contract with Airbus Helicopters for as many as 21 new rotorcraft valued at some $645 million. Adding up the new orders and others since its launch in 2012, LCI has ordered more than $1.3 billion worth of rotorcraft.
AgustaWestland Philadelphia has experienced rapid growth in recent years and is planning for even more. The workforce at the plant has increased from 160 in 2005 to 560 today and workers there assemble the AW139 medium twin and the AW119Kx single for deliveries in North and South America. Since 2005, AW Philadelphia revenues have grown by $500 million to $717 million in 2012, about 18 percent of AW’s total revenues, when the plant assembled 36 AW139s and 12 AW119s. And that production is growing.
AgustaWestland gained EASA approval for its new AW189 medium-twin helicopter on February 7. The company said that delivery of the first two AW189s in offshore configuration to Bristow Group was “imminent.” More than 100 AW189s are on order. To date, Bristow has placed a firm order for 11 AW189s for use on a UK search-and-rescue contract and for offshore operations. Other large fleet customers include Gulf Helicopters and Era, with 15 orders each.
For the first time in North America, Italian OEM AgustaWestland (Booth No. 6937) is displaying here at Heli-Expo its complete family of new-generation helicopters, a lineup comprising the AW169, AW139 and AW189, along with the PZL-Swidnik SW-4, which is making its debut Heli-Expo appearance. The three new-generation helicopters cover the four- to eight-ton categories and share a common cockpit layout, design philosophy and maintenance concept.
CHC Group is going public and has begun an initial public offering (IPO) of 29,412,000 of its ordinary shares. The company, parent of CHC Helicopter, will make all of these shares available in the IPO, which is expected to price at $16 to $18 per share. If the underwriters sell more than the allotted shares, they will be able to buy up to 4,411,800 additional ordinary shares at the IPO price, less underwriting discounts, according to CHC. The company’s symbol on the New York Stock Exchange will be HELI.
AgustaWestland gained EASA approval for its new AW189 medium-twin helicopter on February 7. The company said that delivery of the first two AW189s in offshore configuration to Bristow Group is “imminent.”
More than 100 AW189s are on order. To date, Bristow has placed a firm order for 11 AW189s for use on a UK search-and-rescue contract and for offshore operations. Other large fleet customers include Gulf Helicopters and Era, with 15 orders each.
Malaysian operator Weststar Aviation Services yesterday ordered an additional 10 AgustaWestland AW139 intermediate twin helicopters. The company, which will use the aircraft to support offshore oil and gas industry activity, will increase its AW139 fleet to 34 once deliveries are complete.
The rarefied offshore energy market continues to be the prime driver for development of new civil helicopters, but the training and entry-level market is also heating up, with Bell and others announcing or hinting at new models. Various studies predict that worldwide civil helicopter production will double between now and 2020 in terms of overall sales value as OEMs focus on delivering larger and more expensive helicopters.
AgustaWestland received an order for 15 AW189s from Qatar-based Gulf Helicopters at the Dubai Airshow yesterday. The first two aircraft are slated for delivery next year and all aircraft should achieve operational readiness in 2017. Gulf Helicopters already operates AW139s. Mohamed Al Mohannadi, CEO of Gulf Helicopters, identified the longer range and “perfect size” of the AW189 as factors in the company’s choice.