Commercial helicopter operators will buy between 4,800 and 5,500 helicopters during 2014-2018, according to a survey and market forecast by Honeywell.
The company predicts a return to delivery levels of around 1,000 aircraft a year—similar to levels before the world economic crisis—and this could rise to as many as 1,100-1,200 a year in 2018-19, according to Charles Park, Honeywell market analyst.
The biggest region for growth will be Latin America, with the trend pushed by demand for general aviation helicopters in Brazil and Mexico, as well the continuing requirement for more helicopters in Brazil for the oil and gas industry.
While the light-singles continue to dominate the market, operators are increasingly favoring intermediate and medium-twin models, several new types of which are now beginning to join the market, including AgustaWestland’s AW189 and Airbus’s EC175. According to Honeywell, 33% of operators have plans to purchase the intermediate and medium twin-engine helicopters between now and 2018, compared to just 25% in the company’s 2013 census of operators.
This year’s survey queried more than 1,000 chief pilots and flight department managers, including companies operating a total of 2,800 turbine and 290 piston helicopters worldwide. Honeywell noted that demand in Europe had dipped as a result of a large decrease in purchase intentions from Russian operators compared with a year ago.
“The sample of Russian operators responding grew in 2013, but remains small and adds some volatility to the overall European results,” the forecast says.
Oil and gas operators are flying around 720 hr. per year per aircraft, closely followed by law enforcement at more than 400 hr. per year. Tourism, emergency medical services and general utility users were closely grouped, at approximately 375–400 hr. per year. The lowest average utilization was by corporate segment operators, at just over 300 hr. per helicopter per year.