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Avfuel Corporation
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Helicopter leasing looks set to grow, says report
In a recent webinar on the helicopter market, aviation market intelligence and consultancy company IBA highlighted the growth potential of the helicopter finance and leasing market.
Read this story in our January 2023 printed issue.

Looking at the helicopter market overall, IBA outlines how there are currently over 22,000 western-built turbine aircraft in operation. In comparison to fixed wing aircraft leasing, the helicopter leasing market is less mature, with more opportunities for growth in multiple global markets.

IBA experts found that the medium-sized helicopter fleet represents the highest combined value. The average age of leased helicopters is around 15 years, with medium helicopters having the highest average at 17 years, followed with super medium and lights both at 14 years, and heavy helicopters at 11 years. Looking at specific aircraft, the Leonardo AW139 and Sikorsky S-92A are the most leased helicopter models.

The largest geographical leasing market is Europe, where 12 per cent of all helicopters are leased, followed by North America with eight per cent. Between 500 and 550 helicopters are expected to be delivered in 2022.

Breaking down the fleet by size category, the light helicopter market (2.5 to four tonnes), has grown steadily since 2012. Leonardo and Airbus' combined fleet represents over 80 per cent of the light twin helicopter market, with helicopters in this segment typically having a list price of between $5-10 million.

The medium helicopter market (four to seven tonnes) is set to grow to around 4,200 assets in 2022. Leonardo deliveries outpaced other OEMs in recent years, while Bell's output has slowed. The list price range of this weight category is largely between $10-18 million.

The price range of the super-medium weight category (seven to nine tonnes), is estimated to be between $15-22 million. Airbus and Leonardo are the main OEMs for this category, with long term demand being driven by offshore oil and gas growth.

In the heavy category (over nine tonnes), Airbus and Sikorsky dominate with the H225 and S-92A respectively. 2022 has seen increased demand for the S-92, but any potential new built models are unlikely to enter the market until 2025. According to IBA, there has been increasing demand for this category in recent months due to offshore drilling activity.

IBA experts also gave an overview on eVTOL aircraft, where wide-ranging interest has come from traditional airlines, lessors and taxi operators. The market is expected to grow by around 30 times within the next 10 years to around $700 million.

Established industry investors include Airbus, Beta Technologies, Elroy Air, Lilium, Vertical Aerospace Group and XTI Aircraft.

In the final edition of this 'Ask the Appraiser' webinar series, IBA experts also provided a macro-economic update on the helicopter market, revealing that:

- Helicopter leasing is less mature than for fixed wing aircraft. Under 10 per cent of the global commercial fleet is leased compared to around 50 per cent for commercial fixed wing aircraft.

- A larger percentage of super medium and heavy helicopters are leased compared to smaller helicopters, driven both by capex (capital expenditure) and the risk transfer of volatile markets.

- Market overcapacity will likely accelerate the retirement of older helicopters facing heavy maintenance or upgrades that do not warrant the expenditure.

- High oil prices are pushing demand for offshore oil and gas helicopters as certain oil production and exploration, such as average deep water, is now viable. There are growth opportunities globally in many typical offshore oil and gas producing countries, EMS and wind farm operations.

-The introduction of the super medium class of helicopter has renewed interest in larger helicopters. Airbus and Leonardo are currently the only OEMs producing helicopters in this segment.

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