Civil helicopter market recovering – report


The civil helicopter market is slowly recovering from the economic downturn as emerging economies renew and expand their helicopter fleets, according to a new report by Frost & Sullivan.

The Analysis of the Global Civil Helicopters Market report says that in the commercial segment, buoyant demand from the oil and gas industry for offshore transportation coupled with adoption in the sectors such as emergency medical services, air ambulances and aerial services are supporting revenues. In the government sector, ageing police helicopter renewals are driving market growth.

Frost & Sullivan said the market earned revenues of $6.22 billion in 2013 and estimates this to reach $9.90 billion in 2023. Asia-Pacific, North America, Europe, and Latin America are expected to be the most attractive markets.
“Technology developments in airframe, engine and mission systems that provide more airworthiness, resilience, performance and responsiveness are enabling the new generation of helicopters to function in tough environments,” said Frost & Sullivan Aerospace and Defence Industry Analyst Alix Leboulanger. “Civil operators will also look for capabilities to improve territorial surveillance, crime prevention and natural disaster relief. Vertical take-off and landing capabilities are also greatly sought after to overcome geographic and infrastructure constraints. Such capabilities are critical to bolster operational efficiency, as highlighted during parapublic missions in congested environments and degraded weather conditions.”

Nonetheless, faced with stretched government budgets and irregular turnovers, government and commercial operators are opting to upgrade existing assets rather than purchase new platforms, according to Frost & Sullivan. Continuing renewal of legacy helicopters creates a difficult market environment for newer platforms. Higher insurance costs, personnel training expenditures, and fuel taxes limit opportunities in regions still dealing with economic instability compound the problem.
“Certain operators are even considering switching to other aircraft types, such as fixed wing aircraft and unmanned systems when missions and regulations enable such a change,” noted Leboulanger. “However, there will be a very precise trade-off between operation costs and aircraft performance, which is not necessarily satisfactory, especially if operators are willing to keep hovering capabilities and flying at low altitudes.”

On the other hand, if advanced capabilities were offered using attractive business models that ease the financial burden, manufacturers will be able to gain customers. Optionally unmanning helicopters to embrace the rise of unmanned systems is another option that will extend cost and operational benefits to participants in the global civil helicopters market, Frost & Sullivan said.
“Looking at the big picture, the rise of smart sensors, cloud computing, Big Data, and Internet of Things will facilitate predictive maintenance,” added Leboulanger. “This will reduce related costs by decreasing grounded times and improving resource management.”