Heligo Leonardo AW139. Photo courtesy of Milestone Aviation
Leonardo is seeing a healthy recovery in demand for sales of new helicopters. Executives from the Italian OEM discussed first-quarter performance and provided updates on the status of its NH90 contract with Qatar’s military.
Between January and April 2018, Leonardo reported a 27.8% increase in helicopter revenues compared to the same period in 2017. Leonardo CEO Alessandro Profumo attributes its success to the relaunch of the company’s industrial plan in January. That plan's aim is to achieve double-digit profitability and to invest $624 million into core technology areas over the next five years.
“In helicopters, we are seeing clear, positive signs and good progress of recovery,” said Profumo, also noting that Leonardo booked $730.5 million in new orders during the first quarter, compared to $549 million in 2017.
There was also a total of 45 new helicopter orders during the first quarter of 2018, compared to 21 in 2017. These orders included sales of new AW109, AW119, AW 139, AW169 and AW189s. The order total for the first quarter does not include the new NH90 Qatar contract, which the company believes will materialize before the end of 2018.
“Qatar, we do expect to have the effectiveness of the contract this year," said Profumo. "The down payment will be in 2018, not in 2019. Then, when we will have the effectiveness of the contract, we'll provide you all the information on the numbers."
Deliveries were also up in the first quarter, with Leonardo delivering 29 new helicopters, compared to just 12 for the first quarter of 2017.
Analysts asked Leonardo CFO Alessandra Genco what areas of the industry are showing the most demand for acquiring new helicopters. Genco said the demand is mixed.
“What we see is that there is on the 139, a continued strong market interest. And we're also seeing renewed interest from offshore operators on the 189 as well as on the 169 from EMS operators, from VIP, from a wide range of customers who were actually really looking for this kind of machine which is setting the rise in the right segment of the market,” said Genco.
Both Profumo and Genco also highlighted the new contract agreed to with Qatar in March. The agreement, which includes 16 NH90s in the tactical-transport configuration and 12 NH90s in the naval configuration. Leonardo is acting as the prime contractor for the program. Airbus will provide final assembly and delivery of the 16 NH90s from its facility in Marignane, France, while Leonardo will be responsible for final assembly and delivery of the 12 NH90 naval helicopters from its Venice Tessera facility in Northern Italy.