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Heli-Expo 2005

Heli-Expo returns to Dallas next year and the industry should arrive in Texas more confident than has been the case for at least the last three years.


July 11, 2007
By Helicopters Magazine

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The cycle appears to be complete. Heli-Expo returns to Dallas next year
and the industry should arrive in Texas more confident than has been
the case for at least the last three years.

Of
course it is easy to spot the theme of any Heli-Expo when the industry
is at its peak, in a tailspin (Dallas 2003) or showing signs of a
rebound (Las Vegas 2004). More than anything, Anaheim has signaled that
the cautious optimism experienced in Las Vegas was justified. So it was
odd that this year’s edition was quieter than early shows, even after
taking into consideration the energy of Sin City.

That is not to
say that Anaheim lacked excitement. Just the opposite. Las Vegas racked
up some impressive sales numbers. But so did Heli-Expo 2005. Topping
the list was an order for 20 Bell/Agusta AB139s by offshore operator
Era Helicopters. The order has cemented the AB139s position in the
growing offshore oil exploration and distribution market. Not to be out
done, however, Eurocopter pocketed an order for ten EC 135P2s from
Offshore operator Petroleum Helicopters (PHI).

The tone for
Heli-Expo 2005 was set early with both Honeywell and Rolls Royce
nudging their sales forecasts upwards from what had been predicted a
year earlier. Honeywell sees growing worldwide demand outside of North
America and the European markets, and greater interest in light
single-and intermediate twin-engine models as the reason for a brighter
outlook on the next five years.

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Rolls Royce expects deliveries
of new helicopters to increase over the next 10 years with a lot of
this growth frontended in the first five. Key factors in Rolls Royce’s
predictions include pent-up demand and the Beijing Olympics which is
expected to ignite a spark on the already growing Asian market (a
precursor to what the Canadian helicopter industry will experience when
Vancouver hosts the winter games in 2010?)

As for the home
market, two Canadian operators opened their chequebooks.
Vancouver-based CHC Helicopters bulked up their existing order for 13
Sikorsky S-76s and S-92s with a supplementary order for a further five
S-76 helicopters. The BackCountry Adventure Club of Pemberton, British
Columbia placed an order for a single Eurocopter AS350-B2. Located just
outside Whistler, the world’s 2010 Winter Olympics destination, BAC
intends to use the machine to transport its guests from its lodge
across some of the most spectacular but demanding terrain in North
America.

The Canadian presence was felt in other areas of the
show. Pratt & Whitney Canada (P&WC) launched a new generation
of turboshaft engine with the updated Sikorsky S-76D as its first
customer. DART introduced its full service support company, DART
Helicopter Services, Transport Canada cleared the Sikorsky S-92 for
passenger service and Rolls Royce – which delivered its 29,000th Model
250 turboshaft at the show – signed an agreement with Canadian
Helicopter engines to provide 250 engines, parts and technical support.

For
the first day of the show, the booths that generated high interest were
ones that had at least one large television screen. Once again,
Heli-Expo organizers had some delegates shaking their heads as day one
collided with the Super Bowl (Agusta Aerospace Corporation’s hometown
Philadelphia Eagles might have lost the game, but personnel at the
Agusta booth were still on a high for winning the real prize, the
Marine One contract, to let the disappointment show too much).

Heli-Expo
has traditionally been used as a platform to announce new orders and
launch new product. In addition to the P&WC and Sikorsky
announcements, Eurocopter hinted at the EC 175, a heavy lift helicopter
that will be developed as a joint venture with China, and Sikorsky
began putting flesh on the bones of its recent Schweizer acquisition
(which also announced an order for 10 Schweizer 300CBi piston
helicopters). But the highlight of the show was certainly the
spectacular launch of the allnew Bell 429 light-twin IFR, that the
manufacturer believes will start to eat into Eurocopter’s strength
particularly in the EMS market. Creating a high sense of anticipation
through the use of searchlights, loud music and CEO Mike Redenbaugh
decked out in tuxedo, the launch was in sharp contrast to last year’s
announcement of the short-lived Bell 427i.

“They sense they’re
onto a winner, and they’re right,” one operator noted. “Bell is on a
roll.” That is an observation that should apply to the entire industry.

As
exhibitors pulled down their booths and delegates packed up to return
home, one thing was clear. Las Vegas in 2004 did ignite an incredible
amount of sizzle. Heli-Expo 2005 was quiet in comparison. But Anaheim
managed to deliver the steak. Now it is back to Dallas.


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