According to Dr. Andrew Black, director and head of analysis at Hawk Intelligence Source Management, Russian manufacturers will produce the largest number of heavy helicopters between 2013 and 2022, followed by Sikorsky, Boeing and NH Industries. Black also warned that established western companies’ market share could also come under threat from new entrants to the world market, including India’s Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL) and China’s AVIC, with the light military sector providing them with early opportunities.
In a mildly pessimistic presentation on the outlook for the rotorcraft sector – upcoming opportunities and challenges – Black also told Helitech International 2013 conference attendees that the light civil aircraft sector has the brightest prospects over the 10-year forecast period, followed by the military medium/heavy sector, although even this will be weaker as the wars in south west Asia wind down. Demand for medium/heavy aircraft in the civil sector will continue to be affected by the recession, he said.
However, the industry panel took issue with some of these generalizations. Roberto Garavaglia, AgustaWestland’s senior vice president for strategy and business development, argued that the company’s more detailed model showed that the rapid change in the oil and gas support business, for example, with rigs moving up to 300 nm offshore, would drive the market for more capable aircraft.
Bell’s director of marketing and sales support, Chuck Evans, argued that the need to replace 10,000 to 12,000 first generation five-seat turbine helicopters is a big opportunity for its new Short Light Single (SLS).
Eurocopter UK’s managing director, Markus Steinke, said that the helicopter market today is where the fixed-wing market was 50 years ago, focused on special missions and the rich.
Alluding to the development of hybrids, he said that helicopters of the future will be fundamentally different mass market aircraft. “Beyond that 10-year outlook, you will all be surprised.”