-T / T / +T | Comment(s)

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Rotorcraft Outlook Panel

Question 1: What are the most interesting projects that your company is working on during 2012?

 

Becker Avionics

Becker Avonics has exciting product news and milestones coming up and we believe that 2012 will be another great year. We are continuing to strive to provide innovative solutions for new fit, as well as retrofit, modification and upgrade programs. Some of our new products will be specifically tailored to the demanding environments of the rotary wing industry and will be introduced in “Dzus” fastener format for ease of integration in a variety of aircraft platforms. Over the past three years we have consistently gained market share against the competition, particularly in the audio and intercom segment.

Today we are recognized as the market leader when it comes to airborne digital audio and intercom systems to meet the requirements for a multitude of rotary wing applications, including helicopter emergency medical services (HEMS), airborne law enforcement (ALE), forestry and wildlife management, search and Rescue (SAR), and corporate missions.

As digital audio technology is still not that well known to the rotary wing industry, we will continue to devote a significant amount of time to inform and train customers and operators, crew members and decision makers on the benefits of airborne digital audio technology, in order to help the industry to transition from legacy analog to digital audio technology.

Markus Schmitz, Becker Avionics CEO

 

Aero Dynamix

In March 2011 the U.S. Army awarded Aero Dynamix a $12.5-million, five-year IDIQ contract to provide NVG compatible IFR upgrade kits for up to 650 AH-64 Apache helicopters. The NVG-compatible IFR kits supplied to the U.S. Army will include avionics upgrades required for IFR certification, which includes Night Vision Imaging System (NVIS) upgrades that ensure optimum night vision performance. 75 aircraft have been completed and another 108 aircraft are scheduled for completion in 2012. Aero Dynamix is the preferred supplier of NVIS upgrades for Customs and Border Protection (CBP) aircraft. These aircraft include 20 EC120, 25 AS350B2 and 45 AS350B3 helicopters. ADI will continue to support CBP in 2012 with ongoing aircraft avionics upgrades on approximately 25 aircraft.

Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (LACSD) awarded Hangar One a contract to complete and modify new AS350 helicopters for use in law enforcement operations. Aero Dynamix was selected by LACSD to provide complete cockpit modifications for the fleet including new NVG Edge Lit Panels, instrument panel overlays, and spec-compliant NVIS avionics modifications. This project is in its final stage of completion with 14 aircraft delivered.

LACSD has now purchased three AS332 Super Pumas and awarded Heli-One a contract to perform modifications and integration. Aero Dynamix will provide complete cockpit modifications including external lighting for these Super Pumas in 2012. Aero Dynamix will continue to grow its fixed-wing capabilities in 2012 after being awarded two complete CASA-235s NVG upgrades and a Cessna 182 NVG cockpit upgrade.

Dennis Trout, Aero Dynamix General Manager

 

Presagis

Presagis continues to focus on delivering cutting-edge simulations to the rotorcraft market by delivering innovative, off-the-shelf solutions. Recently announced, SEGen Server will become available in February 2012.

SEGen Server addresses the need for realistic, low-cost training and mission rehearsal environments for pilots.

SEGen Server is a cost-effective server-based software solution for the low-cost generation of high-fidelity, highly-realistic synthetic environments for training. It enables the user to save valuable time, money, and resources by eliminating the need to invest in costly imagery, database development, and storage.

Ideal for use in high flight, low flight, and ground simulations, SEGen Server quickly generates highly realistic ground environments of any location in the world, making it ideal for helicopter training.

At higher altitudes, SEGen Server generates terrain with appropriate lower amounts of detail, based on the requests it receives from our own high-fidelity flight model, HeliSIM, or any other flight model, allowing for a wide variety of simulations to take place.

Guillaume Herve,  Presagis President

 

FlightSafety International

We recently reached an agreement with AgustaWestland to offer factory-authorized training for the increasingly popular AW139. During 2012, we will be engineering and manufacturing a Level D full flight simulator while simultaneously working closely with AgustaWestland to develop mission-specific training programs, including full courseware. We plan to install the simulator in our dedicated helicopter Learning Center in Lafayette, La., and will offer training beginning in early 2013. As with all new FlightSafety simulators, this one will feature electric motion and control loading—attributes we pioneered—and our exclusive VITAL X visual system.

VITAL X is optimized for low-level flight operations training, and offers increased scene content, greatly improved weather features and enhanced levels of detail for optimum cueing. The AW139 is a staple of the offshore industry but also sees significant use for executive transport, HEMS, law enforcement and other missions. FlightSafety customers receive training specific to their mission, using realistic scenarios that prepare them for the type of routine, abnormal and emergency situations they might actually face in the aircraft. We also can tailor training for full or partial crews, allowing them to develop and hone teamwork and work on crew resource management issues. We’re extremely pleased to be working with AgustaWestland and look forward to the same long association with them as we enjoy with many other OEMs.

George Ferito, Director, Rotorcraft Business Development
FlightSafety International

 

Precision Aviation

Precision Aviation Group (PAG) continued to expand and grow in 2011. We completed two acquisitions —Gardner Aviation Services (GAS)—located in Peachtree City, Ga., and Aero Technology, Inc. (ATI), which is located in Long Beach, Calif. These acquisitions greatly enhance our MRO capabilities, expand our geographic footprint, and gives PAG two “on-airport” locations with expansive hangar facilities. With these acquisitions, our total employment has grown to over 160, and our four facilities now encompass more than 150,000 square feet.

For 2012, we will be expanding our capabilities at all of our facilities, but our primary focus will be expanding our Rotary Wing services at our newly acquired companies. ATI and GAS will launch helicopter-specific programs which will expand the type of services that we can provide to our Global customer base. At ATI, we will be expanding their MRO capabilities to include helicopter-specific Accessories, Avionics and Instruments. In addition to this, we will be adding customer service and support staff to specifically support the West Coast Helicopter market for ATI. In January, we will launch the Rotorcraft Services Division at GAS. The Rotorcraft Services Division will provide airframe maintenance, avionics upgrades/installations, and aircraft retrofits for the helicopter market. PAG hired two helicopter industry veterans to run this division in November, and we have already seen a dramatic increase in the number of helicopters serviced at GAS. We are excited about the future opportunities this division creates for our commercial and government customer base.

In our continuing efforts to expand our geographic footprint, in 2011 we hired a Regional Sales Manager in Lafayette, La., to better serve our customer base in the Gulf region. In 2012, we will be opening a facility in Lafayette that will include MRO services. In addition to this, we will continue to selectively pursue acquisitions that enhance the MRO services we provide to our customers.

In addition to the above, we will continue to focus on expanding our proven customer focused business model—Inventory Supported Maintenance Repair and Overhaul (ISMRO), and we will make substantial capital investments in all of our facilities. However, as previously mentioned, the emphasis in 2012 will be on our Peachtree City and Long Beach locations. In direct support of ISMRO, we will continue investing in inventory that supports the aircraft our customers operate, and we have doubled our capital expenditure budget over 2011. Our capital investments will include tooling/equipment, logistics, technology-based customer service improvements, ERP software upgrades, and various facility enhancements.

David Mast, Precision Aviation Group President and CEO

 

Aspen Avionics

Aspen is working on several very interesting projects in the coming year. We will continue to expand our helicopter STC list, providing more opportunities for both civilian and military helicopter operators around the world to transition from steam gauge cockpits to glass cockpits—at a sensible price point. Aspen offers all of the glass panel features that reduce pilot workload and increase situational awareness; features that make flying safer for helicopter operators today. We are also working on a Connected Panel product. It provides inter-connectivity between hand held devices (like the iPad, for example) and the onboard avionics. We have signed up several partners who are developing applications that range from performance monitoring to flight planning.

John Uczekaj, Aspen Avionics President & CEO

 

Donaldson Aerospace

As helicopters expand their operating envelope so must our air filtration technology. In 2012 we will be developing new filtration technologies to overcome two past obstacles, high-engine airflow and high airspeed. Going faster and larger introduces additional challenges, and Donaldson will continue to be the industry leader with high-technology solutions. Flexible architecture systems will be introduced this coming year in the form of universal filtration units that can provide a solution for multiple platforms with limited integration. This technology was recently proven and will be available in 2012 for various applications.

Mike Scimone, President, Donaldson St. Louis, Donaldson Aerospace & Defense

 

Kaman

Unmanned or optionally piloted technologies for military and civil missions are going to drive our industry and Kaman Helicopters’ growth for many years to come. Our Lockheed Martin/Kaman team is very excited about the Afghanistan deployment contract for unmanned aerial truck (UAT) K-MAX helicopters from the U.S. Marine Corps. The challenging environment in Afghanistan is the ideal opportunity to showcase the tremendous capabilities of our UAT, and give testament to Charlie Kaman’s vision and innovative development of unmanned systems that goes back to the early 1950s.

As you would expect, Kaman has many new innovative ideas and long-term solutions that will ensure its unmanned heritage is applied to the next generation of rotorcraft for the U.S. military and our allied nations.

Additionally, Kaman will be expanding its manufacturing operations into Asia, bringing the AH-6 Little Bird composite main rotor blade to market, re-opening the K-MAX production line, and achieving additional SH-2G Super Seasprite multi-mission maritime helicopter sales. All of these activities help drive Kaman’s growth and meet strategic objectives during these challenging times.

Mark Tattershall, Kaman Helicopters

 

BLR Aerospace

Many of BLR’s original FastFin(R) STCs were certified with no change to performance. Over the past 18 months BLR has certified significant increases in hover performance for the UH-1H, Bell 412, and most recently the Bell 212. Over the next 18 months, additional helicopter models will be added to that list.

Dave Marone, BLR Aerospace

 

Cobham

Avionics from Cobham are fully digital for higher dispatch rates and increased mission completion and success, and our technologies delver greater situational awareness for reduced pilot workload and enhanced flight safety. Cobham’s 3D synthetic vision EFIS is the lightest, most comprehensive Electronic Flight Instrument System in the world due to integrated HTAWS, FMS, HITS, and hover vector functionalities. Our HeliSAS autopilot and stability augmentation system is incredibly lightweight, easy to install, and offers hands-free flight at the industry’s most affordable price. Audio and radio systems from Cobham deliver enhanced communication and navigation performance at reduced weight, complexity, and installation cost. End-to-end, an integrated Cobham cockpit offers a reduced panel box count and lighter weight to enable increased helicopter payload capabilities.

With avionics from Cobham, operators of Part 27 and Part 29 rotorcraft will realize best-in-class capabilities throughout the cockpit, an extended useful airframe life, and superior performance versus standalone or ad hoc avionics solutions.

David Ashton, Vice President, Cobham Commercial Systems

 

Aviation Instrument

AIS is working on several new projects for 2012. One is continuing to expand our large and wholly owned major component rotables pool, in order to support our many customers who operate Bell 206, 407, 212, 412, Eurocopter AS350, 355, 365, EC155, BK117 and Sikorsky S-76 helicopters. Our ever growing inventory includes main, combining, intermediate and tail gearboxes, hydraulic servos, dampners, main and tail hubs, etc.

 

Question 2: Where are the new and emerging opportunities for rotorcraft operations in 2012?

Aviall

Aviall’s commitment to the rotor- craft industry factors prominently in its plans for 2012. We will continue to look for products to add to the offerings in our product market basket, extend and enhance our reach around the world, and work with OEMs to strengthen our supply chain capabilities—all in an effort to support the operations of our customers in this industry.

Aviall is preparing for emerging opportunities this year in the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China), the Gulf of Mexico, and operations around the globe. We are supporting Aviall customers operating in major oil fields off the coasts of Nigeria and Brazil, and providing supply chain services for rotorcraft used to transport security personnel in densely populated cities with traffic congestion.

There are opportunities for the industry in the Gulf of Mexico. The U.S. Department of Interior has reorganized and reformed its offshore energy management into the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) and Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM). Contracts have been awarded that will double the bureau’s fleet size to regulate and enforce energy management in the Gulf of Mexico. Aviall remains dedicated to serving its customers operating on the U.S. outer continental shelf and aiding efforts in this region to improve efficiency and effectiveness, enhance safety, and support job creation and economic development in coastal communities.

Other issues faced by rotorcraft operators and Aviall, as their supply chain partner in 2012, include aging fleets and the growth of the practice of “just-in-time” (JIT) inventory deployment. There are emerging requirements in many countries for newer twin-engine aircraft fleets, which will increase costs to already financially-challenged rotorcraft operators. These operators have also been driven in this economic environment to maintain JIT inventory systems throughout their operations, which places additional strain on the supply chain to maintain correct levels of inventory in times of fluctuating demand. Aviall offers services to operators facing these issues that will help control costs and improve business efficiency.

Dan Komnenovich, Aviall President and CEO

 

Presagis

We are seeing a significant increase in demand from the defense side and from commercial applications related to offshore and remote area operations.

On the defense side, the drive is for highly accurate and effective training and mission rehearsal solutions in single and multi-domain environments. On the commercial side, the demand is for easily deployable and accessible solutions that will help the industry reduce the current excessive levels of accidents and incidents.

In all cases, the challenge is to deliver highly realistic, easily reconfigurable, and scalable solutions at reasonable costs.

Helicopters are complex to handle, to pilot, and to operate in often challenging environments; including in military and civilian operations.

Helicopter pilots must continually develop the skills needed to fulfill their mission and/or job. Because every situation is different, and in many cases too difficult or too dangerous to replicate in live training, virtual environments are required to effectively train for any scenario, including military missions, evacuation scenarios, as well as landing on ship decks or oil rigs.

With cost reduction pressures being felt on both the defense and commercial side, there is an increased need for lower-cost simulation options to meet the needs of helicopter operators and pilots. Live-training is costly and not always accessible.

Presagis off-the-shelf modeling and simulation tools are a cost-effective way to develop high-fidelity simulation systems quickly- enabling the pilots to maintain a degree of readiness between periods of downtime. Moreover, Presagis off-the-shelf software enables you to build real-time visual systems, helicopter flight motion and dynamics, create mission scenarios, and develop high fidelity sensor displays.  

Presagis off-the-shelf tools have been used to build or enhance simulations by the likes of The Boeing Company, which uses Lyra IG to enhance features of the Block III Apache simulator, Oktal, that works with HeliSIM for its Tiger simulator, ESG’s SeaLynx helicopter simulator for the German Navy which used STAGE, and AMST’s Airfox DISO simulator, rotary-wing disorientation trainer, which uses Creator and Vega Prime.

Guillaume Hervé, Presagis President

 

Kaman

Beyond the unmanned opportunities, we see demand growing for small ship maritime helicopters that provide nations with a cost-effective capability. This is driven primarily by territorial disputes, anti-piracy operations, submarine concerns, and drug and other smuggling operations.

Mark Tattershall, Kaman Helicopters

 

Aviation Instrument

As the U.S. and European economies work to stabilize, the current markets seem to be more concentrated in domestic helicopter emergency medical service (HEMS), Latin American oil exploration and Asia. We are always looking for quality inventory and offer several consignment programs that can be very lucrative for the consignor.

Our inventory of consignment stock from our many operators such as PHI, Air Methods, and Lider Air Taxi will expand as their fleets are continually changing to newer models. AIS will continue to support its international partners, and bring our unique services to new emerging markets around the globe.

Jim Sensale, AIS President and Founder

 

BLR Aerospace

BLR will continue to invest in technology to improve the performance and capabilities of existing fielded fleet aircraft. Over time, the gap has been widening between the incremental cost and the incremental capability of new production aircraft. For many business models, the expense of new aircraft is not viable. Innovative modifications that increase safety and capability play an important role in containing cost and increasing efficiency. An aggressive development program to meet this challenge represents a significant growth opportunity for the future. 

Dave Marone, BLR Aerospace

 

Aspen Avionics

We see providing affordable synthetic vision and HTAWS solutions to all levels of the helicopter market as a major opportunity for Aspen. Up until now, the expense of glass cockpits and their advanced features have been prohibitive for rotorcraft operators. As Aspen approvals expand in the helicopter market, all operators will be able to take advantage of safety-enhancing technologies that up to now have been reserved for new helicopters at the very high end of the market. Aspen will continue to expand into the helicopter space and will continue to create more opportunities for civilian, military, and public use operators to upgrade helicopters with the latest technology.

John Uczekaj, Aspen Avionics President & CEO

 

Aero Dynamix

Aerial firefighting at night is a relatively recent advancement. The Los Angeles County and LA City Fire Departments have been using NVIS systems the longest, beginning operations in 1999 with Aero Dynamix NVG cockpits. Pilots report not only dramatic improvements in their ability to fight fires at night, but also point out safety improvements in water refilling operations. The Ventura County Fire Department, Orange County Fire Authority and San Diego Fire-Rescue Department have followed suit. All of the above now use Aero Dynamix NVG-equipped helicopters as significant assets in their firefighting inventory.

Under pressure from California legislators, the U.S. Forestry Service is now considering ending its decade-long ban on using firefighting aircraft after dark. Generally, winds die down at night and provide a much improved opportunity to suppress wild fires than during daytime operations. Interest in the use of night vision technology in aerial firefighting is likely to be huge in coming years.

Dennis Trout, Aero Dynamix General Manager

 

Donaldson Aerospace & Defense

New platforms are on drawing boards or in development with most rotorcraft manufacturers; these will offer new opportunities for 2012. Recent history has proven the vitality of increased inlet protection and old paradigms have been broken, and the documented return on investment data provides a compelling argument for customers to implement our inlet filtration solutions. With our core competencies in barrier and inertial filtration solutions we can provide the most flexible design configurations to meet our customer’s requirements.

Mike Scimone, President, Donaldson St. Louis, Donaldson Aerospace & Defense

 

Becker Avionics

Becker Avionics has significant opportunities and growth potential in the rotary wing market. We are working on improving the capability of existing technologies through strategic development, to offer new capabilities, reduce risk, enhance safety, and enable rapid technology introduction. Currently the most important rotary wing segments for Becker are helicopter emergency medical services (HEMS), airborne law enforcement (ALE), and search and rescue (SAR). Further, we see that due to increased budget pressures, military organizations are adopting current, off-the-shelf technologies in order to save time and money. Becker Avionics is uniquely positioned to meet the upgrade and modification requirements of these organizations. Our new audio technology provides significant improvements for most aircraft audio systems on military or commercial aircraft.

Markus Schmitz, Becker Avionics CEO

 

Question 3: What issue or issues concern you most about the immediate future of the rotorcraft industry?

Goodrich Corporation

The key issues facing the rotorcraft industry that concern Goodrich are increasing mission readiness, improving performance and reducing operational costs for our commercial and military customers. Current budgetary limitations have surfaced at a time when we see an unprecedented combination of an increasing need for helicopter operations and services, global cost saving initiatives and ongoing political instability.

For our military customers throughout the world, budgetary challenges often result in a reduction of fleet readiness. Militaries may defer maintenance due to a limited ability to fund spare parts purchases or helicopter repairs. In addition, training time for pilots and maintainers is often cut back to save operating costs.

On the commercial side, operators are challenged by an economy that creates large fluctuations in both demand and fuel costs, while their business model is based upon a need to maximize the usage and performance of their helicopters.

In the face of these issues, we recognize that rotorcraft have robust long-term market performance in production and aftermarket areas. Goodrich has invested in the development of innovative products that directly address these challenges across a wide spectrum of aircraft. We are focused on providing increased value that helps lower total system cost, reduces operating costs, and improves mission readiness and success. For example, our advanced rescue hoists increase mission success because they can operate in adverse conditions such as high winds; now we have further improved them with a version that can operate through a lightning strike. Newer products like our lightweight ballistic-tolerant drive systems provide a simple and complete solution for the helicopter OEM. HUMS—health and usage management systems—are saving millions in maintenance and operating costs for commercial and military users alike. We have lowered the weight and increased the performance of our laser warning systems. As we grow through acquisitions, our newest businesses—Winslow Life Rafts and Microtecnica—are providing helicopter float systems and reversible life rafts, as well as actuation and hydraulic systems which provide reliable performance under extreme conditions.

Goodrich has developed complete integrated ice detection and protection systems that allow helicopters to safely fly in known ice conditions, executing missions that were not practical before. New Goodrich SmartProbe air data systems, widely used on fixed-wing aircraft due to their low weight and advanced functionality, are finding new applications on helicopter platforms. Advanced engine control concepts in development feature more prognostic capability, to deliver better information for improved readiness and mission success rates while lowering operating costs. On the horizon, we are ready to help customers equip for NextGen ADS-B capability with our SmartDisplay electronic flight bags, which have the potential to lower operating costs for the entire fleet while providing improved situational awareness of other nearby aircraft.

Helicopters perform certain activities and missions better than any other vehicle. Larger market and economic forces require industry to invest in continuous improvements to performance and lower operating costs. Goodrich is committed to providing systems that address these drivers and offer increased value in these challenging times.

Curtis Reusser, Segment President, Electronic Systems, Goodrich Corporation

 

Precision Aviation Group

We continue to believe that Energy exploration and support will remain a growth area for Helicopter operations. In addition to this, the Australasia market has continued to be an area of expansion for our companies in the Rotary Wing market. Our support of Government programs presents an increasing opportunity for growth.

We are well positioned for continued growth, and look forward to a strong 2012.

David Mast, Precision Aviation Group President & CEO

 

Cobham

Many segments of the rotorcraft industry will feel significant financial pressures in 2012, which will impact the purchase of new helicopters as well as fleet retrofits. Global military spending is likely to remain flat or decline. Municipal airborne law enforcement and air medical transport agencies will face decreased budgets as a result of falling tax revenues. Opportunities abound, however, for avionics component and system manufacturers capable of delivering significant value in the form of lighter, highly-integrated, highly-functional avionics.

Cobham is uniquely positioned to deliver such value, as evidenced by our selection by Carson Helicopters to provide avionics retrofits for Sikorsky S-61, S-76, and UH-60 aircraft, and by our selection as EFIS provider to the Los Angeles Police and Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Departments.

David Ashton, Vice President, Cobham Commercial Systems

 

FlightSafety International

A succession of industry and government-sponsored task forces have, in recent years, offered a number of proposals to improve helicopter operational safety. While these have been wide-ranging and, in some cases, far-reaching, they share a common denominator: they all recommend increased training as a fundamental and essential step. For example, the International Helicopter Safety Team has set a goal to reduce the helicopter accident rate by 80 percent by 2016. While it remains well short of that goal, IHST remains optimistic that it can be reached, and concludes that training is key. Large operators know this and for the most part adhere to regular training schedules. At FlightSafety, we’re gratified to see a growing number of smaller operators embrace the value of simulation-based training, and we hope to see that trend continue.

On another issue, we’re concerned that government-sponsored operations—chief among them law enforcement—are being significantly affected by severe budget constraints. Increasingly, these cutbacks affect budgets for both training and travel for training. This could become a serious issue as funding cuts grow deeper and more widespread.

George Ferito, Director, Rotorcraft Business Development
FlightSafety International

 

Aero Dynamix

Airworthiness Certification—on April 9, 2011 the FAA issued N8900.152, to be used as guidance for FAA personnel to use for inspection of NVIS installations, with special emphasis on lighting. Many of these provisions were in effect previously, but enforcement has been sporadic and uneven across the country. The robust inspection and enforcement of these new standards will severely challenge many of the NVIS product suppliers and integrators. Aero Dynamix has completed over 500 cockpit modifications on 32 aircraft platforms without certification issues. Each civil aircraft modified by ADI is fully certified and STC’d by the FAA, and is optimized for NVG, non NVG night operations and fully usable in daylight—a major step ahead of our competitors.

Dennis Trout, Aero Dynamix General Manager

 

Donaldson Aerospace

Recent history has shown the rotorcraft industry has been secure, the unique ability of rotorcraft to meet many customers’ needs especially the military’s needs has allowed us to weather some rough times. But the reality of reduced spending on both the commercial and military side will have its effects. Return on investment only counts if rotorcraft are working, not if they are accumulating low yearly operating hours. At Donaldson St. Louis we try very hard to provide operating performance benefits with our filtration solutions that make that “improved inlet filtration solution” argument even more compelling. Donaldson Aerospace and Defense offers the most extensive rotorcraft platform inlet protection solutions based on core competency in both inertial and barrier filtration solutions. 

Mike Scimone, President, Donaldson St. Louis, Donaldson Aerospace & Defense

 

Kaman

Beyond the obvious budget and economic concerns, overcapacity and additional competition from emerging nations such as China are the most pressing challenges.

Investment in technology development is a must for the U.S. to remain one of the industry leaders. The main concern, as always, is how can we collectively improve safety, and I think unmanned technologies can significantly contribute to that important goal.

Mark Tattershall, Kaman Helicopters

 

BLR Aerospace

Cost containment is a major challenge as we look to the future of the rotorcraft industry. Despite the efforts of industry groups and government regulators, significant improvement in safety seems elusive, and the result is an ever-increasing cost to insure rotorcraft assets and operations.

In the certification cycle, burdensome regulation hinders innovation and drives up delivered costs of aviation products. Energy costs, over the past decade, add another $400-$500 per flight hour. All factors combined, if left unchecked, will result in a greater number of helicopter missions that are no longer economically viable.

Dave Marone, BLR Aerospace

 

Aviation Instrument

Right now the global economy as a whole is unstable and like every other industry lack of direction in the stabilization is our concern.

Jim Sensale, AIS President and Founder

 

Aspen Avionics

Standardizing the approval process. The rotorcraft industry needs to address how to gain Federal acceptance of standardized processes in certification and implementation of new technologies in a timely fashion. Without it, game-changing ideas will not be available to this market. 

John Uczekaj, Aspen Avionics President & CEO

 

Becker Avionics

The economy and the existing instability in the U.S. and across Europe remains a major concern for all of us. Yes, we have seen positive trends in 2011 and the new rotary wing market has somewhat stabilized, but things remain fragile. We believe that 2012 will stay flat for most of the year but hopefully we will see improved economic conditions thereafter that will allow for stronger demand of goods and services. In any case it will be a slow recovery to pre-recession levels. It is clear that national and international fiscal and deficit reduction policies will impact budgets and demand in the public and governmental rotary wing sectors. These impending cuts will have a direct impact on the rotary wing industry and can re-intensify the market pressure. Overall, we remain cautiously optimistic about the growth potential over the next 1-2 years in the rotorcraft industry.

Markus Schmitz, Becker Avionics CEO

 

Eurocopter

2012 will be a special and joyful year for Eurocopter as we are celebrating our 20th anniversary. Since the creation in 1992—as before in the founding companies—innovation has been and will remain a key pillar of our strategy.

We have engaged a very dynamic innovation policy to continue to set the standard in today’s highly challenging operational and economic environment. Our product range will be expanded to the EC175 with the first delivery end 2012. And just now we have announced improved performances for the EC175, that will allow operators to reach 90 percent of the global Oil & Gas rigs with full payload/16 pax. The EC145T2 will go toward certification and has already today an overwhelming market success. Both helicopters will offer to our customers and unmatched productivity, and both will have our new HELIONICS avionics on board. And for tour and EMS operators preferring single-engine helicopters, we will have good news at the Heli-Expo in February.

The X4 will go on to develop the successor of the Dauphin family. This extremely ambitious program will incorporate breakthrough technologies developed by Eurocopter and our partners, in terms of performance levels, operating costs, environmental impact and the overall way of how to fly and control a helicopter.

Focus will equally remain on safety and as you may know we have opened the door to a major evolution for single-engine helicopters with the first flight of the AS350 hybrid helicopter demonstrator. This electric engine backup system will deliver assistance in case of a main engine failure to ease the autorotation maneuver. Decision about implementation should be taken in 2012. Last but not least, the X³ will resume flights again and achieve its top speed potential in 2011.

We will equally focus on the other pillars that have made the success of our business model in particular by further developing our services offer and expanding our international network. In parallel, we have launched major industrial projects to continue to rationalize and strengthen our industrial capacities in our founding countries and expand on emerging markets.

In regards to new and emerging opportunities for rotorcraft operations in 2012, the market recovery starts to be there and is very strong in some segments already.

We still expect a full recovery in 2012. The positive net order trend has been led in particular by renewed strength of the oil and gas market. In the U.S. light and medium helicopter markets, both the emergency medical airlift and law enforcement segments are pacing the business.

We have achieved remarkable commercial successes on the civil market in particular with the EC225, which has become the reference in the most demanding conditions, as for oil and gas and SAR operations.

The dynamic market development in regions like Asia or Latin America is confirmed and we will continue to strengthen our activities in these fast growing markets. The continued increase of the military market will equally create new opportunities, even if we will face strong pressure on governmental budgets in Europe. In both markets, constant work to increase cost-effectiveness, improve safety and performance levels will ensure that we will continue to meet the most demanding customers’ needs. The impact of the global economic crisis is a major issue for the future of the helicopter industry. The impact was global, even if the situation was contrasted depending on geography and mission segments, and affected mainly the civil market.

Our business model has limited the impact of the crisis and Eurocopter Group not only managed to continue growing despite the global economic downturn, but also continued investing in innovation and product policy.

With this, we are today well positioned for a recovery in the market in 2012 and beyond. However we closely monitor the latest financial crisis (Greece, Ireland, Portugal, etc.) in order to mitigate possible effects on its activities. Should we have to face a new economic downturn, our order backlog, our significantly increased services business as well as the important improvement measures implemented in the last few years will keep the company in good shape.

The competitive landscape will remain very dynamic and be marked by the growing importance of new competitors in civil and military markets. For us, in this fierce competitive environment, continued investment in innovation, services and international deployment will be key to achieve our Vision 2020 objectives.

Lutz Bertling, President & CEO, Eurocopter Group

Live chat by BoldChat