As in the United States, the two very promising markets in Europe are corporate/executive transport and regional airline—but perhaps for different reasons.
While a booming economy fuels U.S. growth in these markets, according to Roland Becker, factors such as integration into a common market and reunification of the continent following the fall of the Soviet Union propel the demand for air travel in Europe. Becker is president and chairman of Becker Flugfunkwerk GmbH, in Germany.
Boeing’s Current Market Outlook report indicates that deregulated air fares and new airlines that often serve secondary airports also bolster growth in Europe.
Europe has a good train system (though not a flawless one, as the tragic two-train accident in London on Oct. 5 demonstrates) and, in some regions, a worthy highway system. But the ground transportation infrastructure remains woefully inadequate in parts of Eastern Europe and often wanting in the more developed Western Europe, says Becker. In addition, pressure by the increasingly powerful Green Party allows little room for more road and rail construction. As a result, European businessmen who find more and more reason to travel from their headquarters in, say, Munich to their manufacturing facility in, say, Gdansk are seeking the efficiency of a corporate aircraft or, at least, a regional jet.
For shorter hops, it’s a helicopter. Becker believes the ever-growing environmental consciousness in Europe will give helicopters sales a boost, especially in Germany where gridlock has plagued the country’s esteemed autobahn.
This is not to say Europe’s environmental consciousness has not affected aviation in Europe. Boeing’s market outlook reports of a "stepped up offensive at imposing restrictions on the air transport industry," even though aircraft are responsible for "only 3% of carbon monoxide emissions."
Still, despite a growth in new aircraft sales that is predicted to be slightly slower than the current about 5% rate, both the European and North American markets will remain predominant, according to Boeing. Specifically, in Europe between 1999 and 2008, the company foresees the sale of 2,795 aircraft (75% single-aisle or regional jets) worth some $184 billion. Rival Airbus Industrie concurs with Boeing on the top two markets, predicting that over the next 20 years 35% of the aircraft deliveries will be to North American airlines and 30% to European carriers.
In the avionics arena, in addition to new aircraft sales, new regulations will undoubtedly advance the avionics market. For example, Europe’s recent move to 8.33 kHz frquency spacing in the VHF radio band has stimulated the installation of new communication and data link radios, according to Rick Salanitri, vice president-engineering at TIMCO, a U.S.-based repair, modification and systems engineering firm that has witnessed steady growth in after-market installations from carriers serving Europe.
Another example is Europe’s requirement to have airborne collision avoidance system (ACAS) II installed on all aircraft operating in Europe weighing 33,075 pounds (15,000 kg) or more by the beginning of this year. Indeed, safety items such as ACAS and enhanced ground proximity warning systems (EGPWS), together with advanced radar and navigation systems should generate a growth business for avionics in Europe. The year 2000 should see further moves towards an integrated hazard avoidance system (IHAS), which will complement the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA’s) controlled flight into terrain (CFIT) reduction program and similar efforts around the world.
Satnav in Europe
Looking to the future, Europe’s proposed satellite navigation system, Galileo, is in its very early stages. Ground-based navaids will have to be maintained, and the market for European ground navaid manufacturers selling into the developing world will remain strong.
Nevertheless, progression towards satellite-based navigation will continue with the approach of augmentation systems—EGNOS (European Geostationary Navigation Overlay System) in Europe and a similar system in Japan. This, even though some concern remains among air traffic service (ATS) authorities—particularly in Europe—that they do not control and cannot, therefore, vouch for the satnav system’s integrity. The signal augmentation from programs like EGNOS only reduces slightly these fears.