The civilian rotorcraft industry showed signs of a rebound in the first half of the year, with helicopter deliveries jumping nearly 17 percent and billings surging by nearly 24 percent, according to the latest report by the General Aviation Manufacturers Association. Helicopter manufacturers delivered 465 units in the first six months of the year, up from the 398 rotorcraft handed over in the first half of 2016. Billings, meanwhile, totaled $1.88 billion in the first half, compared with $1.52 billion in the same period a year earlier.
“The second-quarter shipment and billing numbers provide a positive marker for the rotorcraft market stabilizing and are a solid bright spot for the general aviation industry in 2017,” said GAMA president and CEO Pete Bunce.
Turbine helicopters led the surge in first half deliveries, increasing 19.9 percent, to 338. But piston helicopter deliveries also improved 9.5 percent from 116 in the first half of 2016 to 127 in the most recent six months. The first-half numbers surged on a strong second quarter in which total shipments increased by 27 percent, to 282, and billings swelled by nearly 50 percent, to $1.31 billion.
Leonardo led the jump in deliveries, handing over 30 more helicopters in the second quarter than in the same period a year earlier. The 71 helicopters delivered by Leonardo brought in more than $573 million, compared with $275 million in billings in the second quarter of 2016. Robinson also enjoyed a strong quarter, with deliveries jumping from 55 in the second quarter of 2016 to 82 in the most recent three-month period. Airbus Helicopters also handed over two additional helicopters in the quarter for a total of 101, and Sikorsky delivered three helicopters, compared with none a year earlier.
These offset a three-unit shipment decline reported by Bell, for a total of 21 shipments, and a two-unit decline at Enstrom, for a total of two helicopters. MD Helicopters does not participate in the GAMA report.