Taking into account both civil and military markets, the yearly delivery value of rotorcraft is comparable to the $18 billion business jet industry, according to aviation analyst Brian Foley. In fact, he is forecasting some 24,000 rotorcraft deliveries over the next 10 years, including 12,000 civil turbines, 6,000 military turbines and 6,000 piston helicopters valued at roughly $250 billion–roughly the same outlook for business jet billings.
This year’s military new helicopter market has been estimated to be worth $19.4 billion, according to London-based analysis firm Visiongain. The firm said here at Heli-Expo 2012 that Western countries, due to budget constraints, will focus on maintaining current fleets while emerging military powers, including South Korea, India, and China will significantly increase acquisitions and be “prominent players” over the next decade.
Even as other aviation segments struggled in the throes of a recession deeper and more enduring than anyone expected, the rotorcraft industry remained at least healthy. But is that going to last? If Heli-Expo 2011 in March was an indicator, the answer is “yes.”
AgustaWestland’s new CEO, Bruno Spagnolini, ensured that his company made a big splash at this year’s Paris Air Show, announcing a new helicopter, new joint ventures, plans to increase product support and service and takeover of the languishing civil tiltrotor program from development partner Bell Helicopter.
SkyBook’s electronic maintenance and flight records system is now available for both the Russian Mi-8 and Mi-17 helicopters.
India’s growing helicopter market is fueling the need for helicopter MRO services, and Indian companies are stepping in to meet the demand.
Industry analysts have been declaring China the “next big market” every year since the discussion came around to business aviation in China. Now, as an economic recovery appears to have begun, it seems China is finally fulfilling its promise, and based on activity at Heli-Expo 2011 in March, the helicopter industry is poised to take advantage of demand.
AgustaWestland CEO Giuseppi Orsi had reason to smile at Saturday night’s press conference, pointing out that the Milan-based manufacturer delivered 111 commercial helicopters in 2010 and the commercial order book showed an increase of 56 percent when compared with 2009.
China not only wants to be the world’s largest consumer of helicopters, it intends to be the largest producer. This is a lofty goal for a country that had less than 100 civil-use helicopters five years ago. Yet as early as 2000, executives who ran China’s state-owned aviation companies predicted that the country would be one of the foremost helicopter manufacturers by 2030.
Since almost one third of helicopter accidents with fatal casualties are caused by impact with obstacles and cables, developing and improving anti-collision systems against low-visibility obstacles is clearly a key objective for avionics specialists. Finmeccanica’s Selex Communications has had success with various military users of its laser obstacle avoidance and monitoring (LOAM) system since introducing it in 2000.
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