Last year at this time, we reached out to the top executives within the helicopter supply chain and asked them what events they expected would have the greatest impact on the helicopter market in 2010. The answer we received almost universally harkened back to a phrase made famous (at least in the United States) in the Clinton era of American politics … “it’s the economy, stupid.”
Of course that should not have been a difficult answer to predict. Ours is a particularly capital-intensive business and if that capital becomes hard to find, our business is going to slow down until it becomes more readily available. Capital is the real fuel of a helicopter. Take away all the gasoline stations along the highways and you would get the same results among automobile operations as we have seen in the past year among helicopter operations. Those with an existing supply or source of their own “fuel” would be in the best position obviously, but even they would take steps to conserve that supply and become extremely judicious about how they spent it. Some would consolidate “fuel” into far fewer vehicles and concentrate on making certain that at the very least they would be able to make their most important trips. Some would undoubtedly decide that the lack of fuel to operate made ownership of the vehicle(s) pointless. Everyone would become much more conservative in their decisions abouts when and where they really needed to go. And such was the state of rotorcraft operations in 2010, pretty much as predicted on the pages of our Executive Outlook as we entered the year.
So with the understanding that “it’s still the economy, stupid” and that the uncertainty of the “fuel” supply of available capital will continue to impact many rotorcraft operations in the coming months, we turned our attention this year to emerging technology, and what effect new technology might have on rotorcraft operations in 2011. Necessity is the mother of invention and difficult times always and inevitably lead to new answers to old problems. As you look over the Annual Reports, you will no doubt run across a number of companies, old and new, who have developed or are in the process of developing some significant new solutions to problems faced by helicopter operators all over the world. Our question for the 2011 Executive Outlook is: “What technological changes do you anticipate will most impact rotorcraft operations in the coming year?”
Rotor & Wing