Is A Fling-wing In Your Future?

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One way to deal with projected delays might be to add a helicopter to your company's fleet. If many of your operations involve relatively short distances -- like within the northeast corridor -- you might be better off reserving the jet for longer flights and using a helicopter. If so, you'll be among good company, according to the Rolls-Royce annual forecast of worldwide turbine helicopter demand. Released March 15 at the Helicopter Association International's HELI-EXPO 2004, Rolls-Royce projected more than 5,000 new civilian helicopter deliveries worldwide over the next ten years. Rolls-Royce President, Helicopters Stuart Mullan made the predictions, a result of a teaming effort with industry-forecasting specialist the Teal Group, to provide the definitive turbine helicopter market forecast. A similar forecast was presented at HELI-EXPO by Lynn Brubaker, vice president, Honeywell Commercial Aerospace. Honeywell's sixth Turbine-Powered Civil Helicopter Purchase Outlook projects deliveries of approximately 2,350 new civil-use helicopters during the five-year period from 2004 through 2008, driven in part by increased demand for light single and intermediate twin-engine models offering newer technology.

Putting aside the military market, civil helicopter deliveries are projected to total 5,165 units worldwide during the next ten years, a figure nearly identical to Rolls-Royce's forecast last year. The market's value is forecast to be $13.9 billion in airframes and $1.9 billion in installed engines. According to Rolls-Royce, "[t]his stability reflects the long-term health of the civil helicopter market ... and the expectation of new product introduction towards the end of the decade." Turbine singles (57 percent of deliveries) and light twins (22 percent) will dominate the market, with deliveries expected to grow slowly over the period from a low of 480 units in 2004 to a peak of 531 at the end of the period studied. The company's projections come at a time when 2003 shipments were down marginally over 2002. The bright side is that 2003 saw a "substantial rebound in piston-engined helicopter sales, which reached approximately 470 aircraft, thanks predominately to a 50-percent increase in Robinson deliveries."