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Thursday, March 1, 2012

Russian Helicopters Eyes China Civil Market

Conglomerate produced 265 helicopters in 2011, expects 20 percent growth during 2012.

By Andrew Parker, Editor-in-Chief

During a Feb. 13 interview at Heli-Expo, Russian Helicopters CEO Dmitry Petrov sat down with Rotor & Wing to discuss a number of topics, ranging from emerging markets to aftermarket support. The Moscow-based conglomerate is made up of a dozen subsidiaries, including Mil and Kamov, employing a total of around 40,000 people.

Petrov said that Russian Helicopters is keeping tabs on the civil rotorcraft market in China, as the government loosens commercial airspace restrictions. “We are very closely monitoring the situation because we’re aware of this opportunity. We’re keeping an eye on it.” He added that “we know roughly what our share of this market should be, but I’m not able to get into further details. But it is expected to be hundreds of new aircraft.”

As far as the military side, Russian Helicopters is “currently number one, and we’re going to retain this position on the market,” Petrov remarked, pointing to an “extensive order portfolio” from the Chinese Army. “For a number of years, these orders will keep coming in,” he continued.

 

Russian Helicopters CEO Dmitry Petrov at the company's Heli-Expo booth. Photo by Andrew Parker

Russian Helicopters is also active in supporting the rotorcraft needs of China’s public service operators, with Kamov Ka-32A11BC deliveries starting in 2011, in both SAR and firefighting configurations. “We started with some single contracts, but this year we signed a contract for 20 aircraft, to be delivered from 2013 to 2015,” Petrov noted. Russian Helicopters is also setting up an aftermarket support business under a joint venture with Chinese partners, and is in discussions about establishing an assembly plant in China. Support services are scheduled to start in 2013.

Petrov also discussed another emerging market—Latin America, which the company “started exploring two years ago.” Russian Helicopters began delivering the Ka-32A11BC and Mi-171A1 early in 2011, and late last year received Brazilian certification for the Ka-32A. “The Mi-171s will be operated by one of the companies working for Petrogras,” Petrov explained. “Other options and deliveries are expected in the near future.”

Operators in the region are also interested in “lighter aircraft,” he continued, “such as the Kamov Ka-226T and the Mi-34S1, and we’re currently in negotiations over the opportunity to start assembling these aircraft in Latin America.” He pointed to contracts in Argentina, Colombia, Mexico and Venezuela as examples of additional growth areas.

Petrov reports that the company’s group of 12 subsidiaries produced a total of 265 helicopters during 2011. “This year we will produce more than 300,” he explained, “so our sales and output will experience a steady level of growth of about 20 percent annually, in terms of both units and revenue.”

Petrov predicts that Russian Helicopters will “maintain the same pace in the coming years. Why I can be confident in saying this is we have an extensive and diversified firm order backlog,” including, on the military side, with the Russian Ministry of Defence through 2020.

“We’ve also experienced great sales in the domestic market—civil helicopters both for exports and for large commercial operators inside Russia.” As a result, the company’s sales are expected to reach 150 billion rubles (approximately $5 billion U.S.), he added.

Look for the full story from Rotor & Wing’s interview with Russian Helicopters CEO Dmitry Petrov in the April 2012 print issue.

Related: Commercial Helicopter News

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