AW189 helicopter. Photo courtesy of Leonardo Helicopters
The first six months of 2017 saw civil helicopter shipments increase by 24% to $1.88 billion, compared to the same period in 2016. According to a new report published by the General Aviation Manufacturer’s Association (GAMA), OEMs delivered a total of 465 piston- and turbine-powered rotorcraft between January and June 2017, an increase of 16.8% over the same period the previous year.
Leonardo Helicopters topped the second-quarter billables value at $573.2 million on the strength of 71 deliveries reported in the second quarter, GAMA said, compared to a value of $62.6 million for 12 shipments in the first quarter.
GAMA President and CEO Pete Bunce called the second quarter 2017 shipment and billing numbers a “solid bright spot” and evidence that the rotorcraft market is “stabilizing.”
The report is positive news for the helicopter industry, where sales of new rotorcraft have been down in recent years, and forecasts have consistently been flat or down. At Heli-Expo 2017 for example, Honeywell Aerospace’s annual rotorcraft outlook forecasted 3,900 to 4,400 civilian-use helicopters will be delivered from 2017 to 2021, roughly 400 helicopters lower than the 2016 five-year forecast.
Key findings from Honeywell’s annual outlook, which surveys more than 1,000 chief pilots and flight department managers of companies operating 3,746 turbine and 362 piston helicopters worldwide, include operators being influenced most strongly by range, cabin size, performance, technology upgrades and brand experience. More than 75% of planned North American purchases surveyed by Honeywell were identified as light single-engine models, while just under 13% of new purchases were slated as intermediate or medium twin-engine models.
Shipments of piston rotorcraft reported by GAMA increased from 116 in 2016, to 127 in 2017. The turbine rotorcraft unit shipments increased from 282 last year to 338 in 2017, a 19.9% increase, according to the report.
Comparatively, GAMA’s recent general aviation fixed-wing shipment report showed a slight 2.7% increase in the total deliveries of business jets, piston aircraft and turboprops during the first two quarters of 2017.
Leonardo’s performance for the second quarter, included shipments of 21 AW139s (up from none in Q1), 12 AW119Kx aircraft (up from four), 11 AW169s (up from four), eight AW109Powers (up from none), seven GrandNews (up from two), five AW189s (up from none), four T129s (up from none), two AW149s (up from none) and one CH-47F (also up from none). Super Lynx and AW101 deliveries dropped to none in the quarter from one each in the first quarter.
The association said Airbus valued quarter shipments at $521.4 million, on top of $303 million for the first quarter’s 74 shipments.
Airbus reported 101 deliveries for the quarter, up from 74 in Q1. That included 28 H145/145Ms (up from 16 in the first quarter), nine H130s (up from five), 36 H125/125Ms (up from 34), five Tigers (up from four) and five AS365N3+/AS565Mbe aircraft, three H225/225Ms, one AS355NP/ASS555AP and one H155 (all up from none in the first quarter). Quarter-to-quarter deliveries dropped for the H120 (to one from two) and H135/135M (to 10 from 11), and deliveries of H175 were at two.
GAMA said Airbus reported no AS350B2 or H215/215M for this second quarter or the first.
Bell Helicopter’s 21 shipments in the second quarter were valued at $124.5 million, versus $161 million for Q1's 27 shipments, according to GAMA. Q2 shipments included nine 429s (compared to eight in the first quarter), five 407GXPs (compared to 10 in Q1), three 505s (on top of two in Q1), two 429WLGs with wheeled landing gear (versus none), one 206L-4 (compared to three) and one 412EPI (also compared to three).
This article originally appeared in sister publication Rotor & Wing International.