The outlook for the helicopter fleet

The outlook for the helicopter fleet

Chris Seymour, Head of Market Analysis at Flightglobal

FlightGlobal_logoThe helicopter industry is well aware of the challenges facing the oil and gas support market during 2016.  The lower oil price has resulted in a squeeze on costs and cuts in deliveries, operating fleet and utilization.

Yet the deliveries for offshore usage have only accounted for 14% of the market in the past decade based on data in Flightglobal Fleets Analyzer.  The multiple roles in which helicopters operate makes them one of the most flexible of aviation assets and the problems in one sector do not mean that all are affected. Indeed, lower oil price is of benefit in lowering operating costs.

Looking ahead, the outlook is still positive.  Ascend’s latest 2016 Global Helicopter Forecast (GHF) is predicting demand for 10,375 turbine helicopter deliveries worth $69 billion (2016$) in the next ten years, of which 45% will be used to replace over 4,000 of the existing fleet.  Helicopters are known for their longevity but new technology is a key factor in improving operating and cost efficiency of the fleet.

The market for smaller helicopters in business, private and utility roles is especially vibrant and the impending introduction of new low cost types like the Bell 505 JetRanger is stimulating demand.  The EMS, SAR and VIP fleets continue to grow.  Even the offshore support market will recover over time and availability of new generation types like the H160, H175, Bell 525 and AW189 will be at the forefront of fleet replacement.

While North America remains the largest single market for new helicopters, the Asia-Pacific region has been catching up with the second largest market of Europe and is forecast to be taking more deliveries by 2025.  Indeed, the global market is expected to see over 1,000 annual deliveries again by 2020.

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