Igor Sikorsky “thought the helicopter was only here to save lives,” said Jeff Pino, president of Sikorsky, at the start of his Heli-Expo briefing. “We’ve kind of counted how many lives have been saved by Sikorsky—and come up with two million!” Was he joking?
According to Sikorsky’s own archives, the first civilian helicopter rescue took place on Nov. 29, 1945, when a Sikorsky R-5 rescued two men stranded on a floating oil barge on the East Coast. That gives us 66 full years (as I write this in February 2012). That’s 30,303 lives saved per year—or 83 people on average every day since 1945. Wonder where they got the figures from?
The next set of figures, Pino was bound to have spot-on. He announced that the company registered $7.4 billion in sales for 2011, which he said represented a “tremendous growth path since 2005.” He views Sikorsky and Eurocopter as equals.
“We’re starting to change the pie between the U.S. government and the rest of our revenue sources,” he said. All three of the business segments were now delivering helicopters, but the big numbers are still with the Department of Defense: “125 Black Hawks, 66 Naval Hawks and six other major mods that we just don’t talk about,” but could be flying over a terrorist hideaway in foreign lands as we speak—he might have added.
“From height of market back in 2008 we have seen a downward trend as the market went through capitalization issues, but at the end of 2011 we brokered over 26 S-92 orders in December alone,” he said.
“A couple of things drive our position in the civil market. Historically, it has always been a nine passenger and above kind of world. And that’s still driving the marketplace,” Pino stated. The age of that nine-plus passenger fleet is a factor too, around one third of it is approaching 30 years of service. Many of the offshore oil contracts require aircraft of only 10 years old—so that’s why the exhibitor floor at Heli-Expo will be busy, he explained.
The full version of this story appears in the March 2012 print edition of Rotor & Wing and will be available online March 1.
Related: Commercial Helicopter News