Industry leaders and experts will press on with efforts to parse conflicting signs of the state of helicopter markets when Europe’s biggest rotorcraft show convenes next week in London.
As Helitech International 2017 convenes Oct. 3 in eastern London’s ExCeL exhibition center, participants will be assessing recent signs of an upturn in helicopter deliveries and new growth forecasts with a top prognosticator’s sobering outlook and persistent pessimism among big operators and OEMs. More than 200 players from across the civil industry are scheduled to showcase their latest technology and services this, the 31st Helitech show, which runs through Oct. 5.
At least one major announcement planned at the show may leave folks re-examining their expectations of the market, particularly those for the super-medium helicopter class targeted at the offshore support market. Look for that news on the opening day.
The General Aviation Manufacturers Association has reported that first-half civil helicopter delivery billings jumped nearly 24% and shipments climbed nearly 17% this year over 2016, and forecast firm P&S Market Research sees the global helicopter growing at a compound annual rate of 3.4% through 2023.
But Honeywell kicked off 2017 by forecasting in its 19th annual Turbine-Powered Civil Helicopter Purchase Outlook deliveries of 3,900 to 4,400 civilian rotorcraft through 2021. That’s about 400 fewer than its 2016 forecast. Offshore operators still talk of a persistent downturn in their businesses and at least one major OEM expects 2017 to be worse than last year for deliveries,
Helitech aims to provide a forum for examining such business matters as well as key safety and operational issues through free-to-attend seminars and panel discussions. The modular-style conference program, new this year, is designed to make it easy for attendees to drop in and out of sessions and combine them with visiting the exhibition, attending meetings and networking.
On the opening day of Helitech International, experts from the Air Ambulance Services of Norway, Bristow Helicopters, Babcock Mission Critical Services and CHC Helicopter will discuss how new technologies are helping to optimize and improve safety on search and rescue missions. In addition to discussing equipment and training systems, the panel will discuss how a new national database in Norway is using web and mobile apps to map all air ambulance landing sites in the country, as well as marking all known obstacles — such as wires and mobile masts.
Also on opening day, the chair of the Renewable UK Offshore Aviation Task Group, Alastair Riches, will moderate a session that will discuss how helicopters will be integral to future offshore logistics operations. Representatives from DONG Energy Wind Power, the global leader in developing and building offshore wind farms, offshore consultancy service SeaState Aviation and Babcock Mission Critical Services will consider what will be required of operators and the challenges that face those involved in transporting equipment and people to offshore sites.