It is always exciting to see so many people who love helicopters as much as we do! This year HAI Heli Expo was held in Anaheim, California. Thousands of exhibitors and attendees travelled from all around the world for the three-day frenzy.
While big announcements were scarce, there were a few major headlines this year and most importantly further product improvements and a multitude of new or upgraded products and services.
The show was marred by the sad accident that took place just a few days before the event some miles away. This was another reminder that safety is never to be taken for granted. It highlights the enduring struggle to reach a balance between maximum regulatory safety and ‘real world’ pragmatism.
One thing for sure, the show remains a unique opportunity to hear all kinds of voices throughout the industry and from around the world, feeling the pulse of the market beating strong despite enduring headwinds.
Perhaps the biggest headline was Leonardo buying over Kopter which in one swoop will put Leonardo on the map to compete in the single turbine segment. Very strong in the medium twin segment, this purchase will be a big test for the organization both promising and challenging. Now the second largest helicopter manufacturer, this purchase will bring Leonardo head on with Airbus Helicopter holding on tight to its more than 50% overall market share.
Airbus Helicopters announced performance enhancements on both their H125 and H135 product lines giving their highly successful types one more boost. Direct Maintenance and Operational Costs will have to be monitored but those operators requiring the additional payload or mission capability will surely be happy. Airbus says it is close to achieving H160 certification which will see the latest type come to market in a difficult environment. While it is targeted at the AW139 market, the home military market will surely give the program the early support it requires.
Sikorsky announced incremental upgrades to the S92 to try to remain relevant in the difficult heavy offshore segment while Bell has stopped providing certification dates for the 525 but stays focused on bringing up the type for offshore starting in Norway. At the same time Bell Flight focuses on the long game and Urban Mobility.
In parallel, consolidation between the predominantly offshore but fast diversifying big market players continues with Bristow and Era coming together.
Offshore reduced growth, overcapacity, consolidation and new types coming to market promises a good show and plenty of healthy competition in the medium and super medium segments. Hopefully the operator will come out winner yet lower production numbers for any helicopter type is usually not a winning formula for anyone notably when it comes to customer support and direct maintenance costs.
Safran HE celebrated a record number of new product certifications and perhaps their biggest win, the launch of the AW189K with Gulf Helicopters.
Pratt & Whitney Canada, the only manufacturer to maintain top spot year after year in customer support surveys is adding capability with a new engine overhaul facility in Brazil where the world’s third-largest P&WC fleet is located.
New helicopter types and product enhancements are clear performance, safety and technological accelerators but not always synonym with good customer support and reduced life cycle costs despite promises. Hearing from operators around the world, helicopters remain overly expensive to operate and maintain. Helicopter manufacturers have enormous power over the market but their growth needs to be better aligned with what operators really need.
Case in point are the medium to very large HEMS operators in North America and Europe operating more and more homogenous fleet with very clear requirements: lower maintenance and operating costs, higher reliability (MTBUR and MTUF) and spares availability (new and repair parts).
Closer to home, Rotortrade was happy to announce the latest H225 sale to Air Greenland and associated return to service through HeliOne. Leonardo acknowledged Rotortrade for the 70 helicopters sold in the past seven years of successful partnership.
As we see the pre-owned market more and more dominant but also extremely atomized and muddled, we were proud to announce 2019 RT results of 30 helicopter bookings or almost double the number of transactions representing 150 tons of helicopters across missions, range and countries.
After a successful and busy HAI event, Rotortrade sales and marketing team spent 2 days sharing insights gained during the event from around the world and across cultures, translating those into actions to keep improving pre-owned helicopter purchases and divestments.
HAI Heli Expo was a great way to start the year and we look forward to seeing you again at the following events:
• Helicopter Investor London, 25-25 February (London, UK)
• AeroExpo Mexico, 3-5 March (Toluca, Mexico)
• Safety Seminar Amigos de la Aviacion, 18-20 March (Merida, Mexico)
• FIDAE, 31 March- 5 April (Santiago, Chile)
• HeliRussia, 21-23 May (Moscow, Russia)
• EBACE, 26-28 May (Geneva, Switzerland)
• Aero Expo UK, 11-12 Jun (Marlow, UK)
• Rotortech Australia, 15-18 Jun (Brisbane, Australia)
And of course, see you next year at HAI 2021 in New Orleans!
Please contact us for more information or to set up a meeting with our team at [email protected]