Helicopters Magazine

Seeking New Heights

July 7, 2010  By Stefanie Wallace

A lack of economic growth prospects and limited new order intake may contribute to what look like dreary deliveries of new civil use helicopters over the next five years.

A lack of economic growth prospects and limited new order intake may contribute to what look like dreary deliveries of new civil use helicopters over the next five years.

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The demand for law enforcement helicopters, like this EC-120B,
continues to be solid. (Photo courtesy of Edmonton Police Service)


The results of Honeywell’s 12th Turbine-powered Civil Helicopter Purchase Outlook predict steady utilization trends and weak new aircraft purchase expectations for the five-year period of 2010-2014. But Honeywell remains cautiously optimistic operating levels will see modest growth in 2010.

The 2010 civil turbine helicopter report is based on results of a customer expectations survey, an evaluation of consensus forecasts, and a review of factory delivery rates and analysis of future helicopter introductions. This year, 1,074 chief pilots and flight department managers of businesses operating helicopters globally were surveyed.


The most common regional purposes for new helicopter purchases remain the same as several past survey results, Honeywell notes. Corporate, emergency medical services (EMS), law enforcement and utility helicopters are expected to account for more than 80 per cent of global sales during the five-year forecast period. Operators surveyed said corporate and law enforcement uses were the top applications new aircraft purchases would go toward, with “substantial demand [existing] for new corporate use helicopters in nearly all world regions.”

The second most common use was the law enforcement sector, with 16 per cent of total demand. Survey results showed the highest interest in law enforcement helicopters reigns in North America, “accounting for about 22 per cent of regional demand,” with Asia coming in a close second at roughly 18 per cent.

Utility and EMS helicopter usage each came in at 15 per cent of the total projected demand for 2010. A significant increase in utility purchase plans was noticed in African and Middle Eastern operators, with utility helicopters accounting for 32 per cent of purchase plans. Expected EMS helicopter demands were high in North America and Europe, with 29 and 20 per cent respectively.

According to Honeywell, the improvement in oil prices and the prospects for increased oil demand may be the reason for a two per cent jump – from six per cent last year to eight per cent this year – in the need for oil and gas production aircrafts. Survey results showed Africa and the Middle East continue to hold the highest regional demand rate for aircrafts in this segment with 46 per cent, followed by 19 per cent in Asia and the Pacific regions.

The need for new aircraft in other segments, such as media and firefighting, fell well below the rest. Only 4.5 per cent of prospective spending goes toward the tourism and sightseeing industry.

Survey results also indicate maintenance costs, avionics capabilities, aircraft age, cabin size and contract mandated upgrades factor into North American purchase plans. At 32 per cent, North America still holds the greatest regional share of prospective buying, despite a 26 per cent decline over last year. European buying prospects for the estimated five-year market also declined to about 18 per cent of global shares. Asian purchase plans fell 10 per cent, but Africa and the Middle East increased their plans by 17 per cent. Latin America’s new purchase expectations increased by more than 100 per cent compared to 2009’s survey results.

“The decision to acquire new helicopters is nearly always driven by the age of the current aircraft, which is usually reflected in an operator’s desire for better technology,” said Carl Esposito, vice-president of marketing and product management for Honeywell Aerospace.

Compared with last year’s outlook, total purchase expectations fell about eight per cent internationally, with little trade-up expectation.


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