Helicopters Magazine

Civil Helicopter Forecasts

October 17, 2019  By Helicopters Staff

New reports from Boeing and Honeywell illustrate the growing call of aviation companies for new hires is as equally prevalent in the rotary-wing world as it is in fixed-wing. The Boeing Pilot & Technician Outlook, released in late-July 2019, projects that 769,000 new maintenance technicians will be needed to fly and maintain the world aircraft fleet by 2038. Inclusive of commercial aviation, business aviation and civil helicopter industries, Boeing’s 20-year forecast is based on fleet growth, aircraft utilization, attrition rates and regional differences in crewing specific to aircraft type.

The 769,000 new technicians mark in 2019 represents an increase relative to last year’s forecast of 754,000 from Boeing. The projected demand for technicians in North America is expected to reach 193,000 by 2038, up two per cent from last year.

In terms of the global market, Boeing forecasts a need for 61,000 helicopter pilots by 2038 – amid a total demand for 804,000 pilots across all aviation sectors, with Asia Pacific having the highest demand at 266,000 pilots. Asia Pacific was also forecast to have the highest need for technicians at 266,000. The global helicopter industry demand for technicians was 44,000. In terms of North America’s civil helicopter personnel demand, Boeing forecasts the region will require 14,000 new technicians and 21,000 new pilots by 2038.

Boeing also forecasts that the tasks and services associated with upgrading, maintaining and restoring airworthiness of aircraft make up approximately 70 per cent of a $3.1 trillion service market, growing at 3.5 per cent annually. This forecast is based on a 10-year horizon, with North America holding the dollar value to 2028 at $1.4 trillion.


The company estimates the commercial services market will continue to hold a slight edge over the government services market in terms of revenue growth. Asia Pacific is forecast to see a major growth in services at 39 per cent to 2028, representing an annual growth rate of 5.1 per cent. Europe came second in this category at 22 per cent overall growth and North America was third at 20 per cent.

In another important annual forecast designed specifically around the delivery of civil helicopters over the next five years, Honeywell Aerospace in March 2019 projected 4,000 new civilian-use helicopters will be delivered from 2019 to 2023, marginally lower than the 4,200 cited in its five-year forecast in 2018.

The company’s 21st annual Turbine-Powered Civil Helicopter Purchase Outlook comes from a survey of more than 1,000 chief pilots and flight department managers of companies operating 3,334 turbine and 321 piston helicopters worldwide. The survey excludes large-fleet operators, which were addressed separately, and details the types of aircraft operated to assesses specific plans to replace or add new helicopters.

“Despite positive impacts of U.S. tax reform on new helicopter purchase plans in North America, an inconsistent economic outlook for international markets has resulted in lower purchase plans worldwide from fleet managers when compared with a year ago,” stated Heath Patrick, president, Honeywell Americas Aftermarket.

Honeywell explains one of the key survey findings from its 2019 survey shows that about 20 per cent of survey respondents in North America said their helicopter fleet utilization is expected to increase over the next 12 months – much higher than the global rate of 14 per cent. Honeywell also forecasts that, based on the 2019 survey, purchase plans are stronger from law enforcement and oil-and-gas operators relative to last year, but significantly lower from corporate operators.

Honeywell projects a greater proportion of planned new helicopter purchases are for intermediate/medium twin-engine models based on this year’s survey when compared with 2018. The proportion is lower for light twin-engine, according to Honeywell; and the proportion of light single-engine and heavy twin-engine planned purchases are about the same as last year.

When choosing make and model for a new aircraft, Honeywell explains the top three factors that operators consider are brand, aircraft performance and cabin size.

In North America, Honeywell notes purchase plans have risen by five percentage points from over a year ago, with 18 per cent of respondents saying they would either replace or expand their fleet with a new helicopter over the next five years. The company points to the fact that North America is home to more than 40 per cent of the world’s helicopter fleet. Close to 65 per cent of planned North American purchases, according to the survey, were identified as light single-engine models and roughly 22 per cent of new planned purchases were for intermediate and medium-twin product classes.


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