March 12, 2019

Outlook for helicopter deliveries takes a dip
In its 21st annual Turbine-Powered Civil Helicopter Purchase Outlook, Honeywell suggests that 4,000 will be delivered in the five years to 2023, 200 fewer than in the previous yearly report.

Honeywell has forecast 4,000 new civilian-use helicopters will be delivered from 2019 to 2023, marginally lower than the 4,200 cited in the five-year forecast from 2018.

“Despite the positive impacts of US tax reform on new helicopter purchase plans in North America, an inconsistent economic outlook for international markets has resulted in lower purchase plans worldwide from fleet managers when compared with a year ago,” says Heath Patrick, president, Americas aftermarket, Honeywell Aerospace. “Honeywell remains focused on bringing innovation to the market by delivering avionics, monitoring systems and connected helicopter technologies that boost a platform's efficiency and availability.”

The survey found that 20 per cent of respondents in North America said their helicopter fleet utilisation is expected to increase over the next 12 months, higher than the global rate of 14 per cent. Purchase plans are stronger from law enforcement and oil and gas operators in this year's survey, but significantly lower from corporate operators.

A greater proportion of planned new helicopter purchases are for intermediate/medium twin engine models in this year's survey compared with 2018. The proportion is lower for light twin engine. The proportion of light single engine and heavy twin engine planned purchases are about the same as last year.

Despite respondents having a slightly less positive view of the global economic outlook in this year's survey compared with 2018, new helicopter platforms will support an expected three to four per cent annual growth rate in overall deliveries. The predicted increase in deliveries signals an overall healthy helicopter market poised for moderate growth.

In North America purchase plans have risen by five percentage points over a year ago, with 18 per cent of respondents saying they would either replace or expand their fleet with a new helicopter over the next five years. North America is home to more than 40 per cent of the world's helicopter fleet. Close to 65 per cent of planned North American purchases were identified as light single engine models, while roughly 22 per cent of new planned purchases were for intermediate and medium twin product classes.

In Europe purchase plans were lower in this year's survey. Nearly 15 per cent of respondents said they would either replace or expand their fleet with a new helicopter over the next five years. The figure was 22 per cent a year ago. Intermediate and medium twin engine classes captured roughly 30 perncent of total mentions for new helicopters. Meanwhile, 25 per cent of respondents indicated plans to purchase light single engine helicopters, down 12 percentage points from last year.

The sample of Russian operators responding in the 2019 survey remains small, which continues to add some uncertainty to the overall European results.

In Latin America results for 2019 show significantly lower fleet replacement and growth expectations compared with 2018. Purchase plans are well below the global average of 15 per cent, and the region's purchase plans decreased by 26 percentage points from last year. Latin America had the lowest rate of new aircraft purchase plans globally, with only nine per cent of respondents saying they would either replace or expand their fleet with a new helicopter over the next five years. Purchase plans in Brazil decreased to only five per cent, reflecting higher political tensions and lower expectations for long-term economic growth.

Latin American respondents favored light single engine models, which represent about 70 per cent of their planned purchases, an increase of 20 percentage points when compared with 2018 survey results.

In the Middle East and Africa 15 per cent of respondents' fleets expected to get a new helicopter replacement or addition. Purchase plans were five percentage points higher compared with 2018 survey results.

Close to 70 per cent of planned new helicopter purchases were medium twin engine models. Light single engine models were the second-highest mentioned product class in the survey by operators.

And finally in the Asia Pacific region overall buying plans were down five percentage points when compared with 2018. Close to 13 per cent of respondents said they would either replace or expand their fleet with a new helicopter over the next five years. Light single engine and medium twin engine helicopters were the most popular classes, both capturing near 30 per cent of mentions for new helicopters.

Despite limited inputs, new helicopter purchase plans were stable in China, showing that about 21 per cent of the fleet would be replaced or expanded by a new helicopter over the next five years. Plans were up by about 10 percentage points in India.

Honeywell says that this year's data comes from a survey of more than 1,000 chief pilots and flight department managers of companies operating 3,334 turbine and 321 piston helicopters worldwide. The survey excluded large fleet or “mega” operators, which were addressed separately. Input received from large oil and gas support and emergency medical service fleet operators is factored into the overall outlook in addition to the individual flight department responses. The survey detailed the types of aircraft operated and assessed specific plans to replace aircraft or add new helicopters to the fleet.

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