GE Aviation (Booth No. 7202) joined with Bristow Group on Wednesday to sign the first engine service agreement for the CT7-2E1 turboshaft engine powering the AW189 helicopter.
Call it the decade of “skies opening” in greater China, or, if you are a helicopter OEM call it the decade of sales opportunities. If you are involved with helicopters in greater China today the excitement and growth is palpable. Last year the entire fleet (465 helicopters, 424 based in mainland China) grew by 20 percent, according to the Asian Sky Group Greater China Civil Helicopter Fleet Report, released during Heli-Expo 2014.
FlightSafety International (Booth No. 5902) is upgrading its helicopter simulator graphics with its new Vital 1100 visual system and already has qualified it in several level-D units and for use in other advanced training devices. FlightSafety says the new system has five times the computing power of its Vital X predecessor and significantly enhances training by providing realistic mission-specific imagery with improved scene content and greater levels of detail.
“We are very bullish on the rotorcraft market, and on the future,” said Milestone Aviation Group managing director Robert Dranitzke.
San Francisco-based Macquarie Rotorcraft Leasing (MRL, Booth No. 7802) announced yesterday here at Heli-Expo the purchases of two Sikorsky S-92A twin-engine helicopters for its growing fleet aimed at supporting operators in the oil-and-gas and search-and-rescue markets. The two S-92s will be leased back to Avincis subsidiary Bond Offshore Helicopters and will be delivered in the second quarter of 2014.
San Francisco-based Macquarie Rotorcraft Leasing (MRL) purchased two Sikorsky S-92As for its growing fleet aimed at supporting operators in the oil-and-gas and search-and-rescue markets, the company announced today at Heli-Expo. The two S-92s will be leased back to Avincis subsidiary Bond Offshore Helicopters and will be delivered in the second quarter. MRL, a wholly owned subsidiary of Australia’s Macquarie Bank, also purchased two S-92As and two S-76Ds in November and recently added an additional S-76D and two other helicopters to its roster.
In 2009 offshore-energy helicopter operator Bristow Group bought 42.5 percent of Brazil’s Lider Aviação Holding for $174 million. “Bristow is happy with its investment in Lider,” Bristow executive vice president Mark Duncan recently told AIN. “It was a bold and strategic move and it was the right move.”
The rarefied offshore energy market continues to be the prime driver for development of new civil helicopters, but the training and entry-level market is also heating up, with Bell and others announcing or hinting at new models. Various studies predict that worldwide civil helicopter production will double between now and 2020 in terms of overall sales value as OEMs focus on delivering larger and more expensive helicopters.
The rarefied deepwater oil and gas market has spawned new players and big deals in the helicopter operating leasing market, but to date these transactions have largely been confined to medium and large helicopters. What will be the impact of leasing on the industry as a whole, especially for smaller operators with light helicopters in the non-oil-and-gas segments, and will it ever become as predominant as it is for airlines, where approximately one-third of the fleet is leased?