The rotorcraft market faced worldwide turmoil in 2018 but is seeing steady demand for lighter models and some improvement in medium/super-medium segments, according to Asian Sky Group’s (ASG) latest edition of its Asian Sky Quarterly. ASG's report notes a gradual slide in deliveries from the major OEMs that began in 2010, dipping to an estimated 460 new helicopter shipments last year, down 44 percent from 2010.
ASG managing director Jeffrey Lowe cited a number of reasons for the results. “There was major restructuring from a notable leasing company, the ongoing after-effects of the [oil and gas] downturn and a market oversupply,” he said. “While demand for single-engine and light twin-engine helicopters has been consistently stable in the utility and corporate segments, it has not been the case for heavy helicopters and for the majority of medium-sized models.”
However, Lowe pointed to possible recovery trends, with price stabilization and increased interest in certain medium and super-medium helicopters.
Airbus Helicopters and Leonardo accounted for 88 percent of new medium and helicopter deliveries from 2016 to 2018, with the H145 and AW139 representing the largest share of those. Even so, the H145 and AW139 joined the Bell 429 and S-76D in experiencing declines.
At the same time, deliveries of light single-engine models such as the Bell 505 and H125 have increased, boosting the entire category. “This reflects the market’s shifting interest in the lighter helicopter segment,” ASG said.
On the preowned side, rotorcraft values have held up despite growth in inventory in recent years, ASG said. With the turbulence in the oil and gas industry, a number of helicopters were placed on the market from 2013 to mid-2017. On average, inventory level increased from 3.9 percent in 2013 to 6.2 percent in 2017, marking an oversupply, ASG said.
“To avoid recording a potential loss on the company’s book value, aircraft owners and leasing companies have been hesitant in lowering their official selling prices,” ASG said. “Consequently, the preowned market’s inventory value has continued to remain high, while the transaction level remains low.”