Helicopter Demand Declines: Amazing to Great

Honeywell Forecast sees battle between optimism and demand and the sluggish economy.



The market for new helicopters might decline slightly in 2014. Then again, it might not. According to Honeywell researchers, the market for new civil helicopters over the next half decade looks to be strong, especially this year; prospective buyers are more muted in their expectations for the years following, a situation that might change as economic conditions improve.

Honeywell’s forecast calls for deliveries of around 1,000 helicopters a year, down by around 20 percent from last year’s forecast but still a hugely positive outlook by any other measure. Business in Asia looks to pick up substantially, based on interviews with operators there, whose confidence has been buoyed by the region’s surprising resilience to the downturn and an increased demand for helicopters as Asian economies grow and diversify.

The reason cited by most operators who said that they would buy a new helicopter within the next five years was the age of their current helicopters (something that only grows more urgent as time goes by) and regular replacement plans. The market for light single and twin-engine models looks to be especially strong. The forecast calls for 66 percent of the models purchased during the next five years to be smaller models, a trend nicely illustrated at Heli-Expo by announcements of big orders and new models in the lighter segments of the market.

While Honeywell’s 2012 helicopter forecast was a positive one nearly across the board (as contrasted with recent forecasts for fixed-wing aircraft), its authors suggested that next year’s could be even better if the economy picks up and operators find themselves needing to spend money to add to their fleets to satisfy commercial demand or to replace an helicopters that have been worked hard, often past their usual retirement age.