OEMs and show organizers at Heli-Expo this week appear to be on cloud nine as the helicopter industry continues on a strong growth path. More than 13,000 people pre-registered for the show this year, and, by Thursday morning, Helicopter Association International reported more than 20,100 attendees, breaking the attendance record for the sixth consecutive year.
In all, 738 exhibitors are filling more than one million square feet of space at the Las Vegas Convention Center, where 61 helicopters are on display. And the helicopter manufacturers have announced good results during the show. Referring to 2012, the words “best year ever” were uttered in press conferences by several OEM executives, including those with Bell Helicopter, Sikorsky and MD Helicopters.
Sikorsky president Mick Maurer announced that the company recorded $6.8 billion in sales in 2012 and announced several large orders at the show. MD Helicopters’ chief Lynn Tilton said MD delivered 24 helicopters in 2012, resulting in record revenues. Bell’s commercial side increased deliveries from 125 to 188, about a 50 percent increase in 2012 over 2011, said Bell president and CEO John Garrison. Robinson saw similar numbers, with a 45 percent increase in deliveries from 356 in 2011 to 517 in 2012, including 191 R66s, a number company president Kurt Robinson was very happy with since the turbine helicopter has only been on the market for a few years.
OEM forecasts for 2013 were also very positive despite some manufacturers facing possible order reductions as a result of the government sequester. Sikorsky’s Maurer credited the increasing demand for oil, with particularly high growth in developing markets, and increasing distances from shore to oil rigs for the boost in sales.