Helicopter market ‘steaming ahead’ in 2014: Ascend

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New developments in the helicopter market, including the emergence of more operating lessors and banks, will lead to another prosperous year for this growing sector, predicts Flightglobal’s advisory service Ascend.

Speaking at the Corporate Jet Investor conference in London today, Ascend client delivery manager Chris Wills said “2014 will be another interesting year due to the entry of new aircraft types into service, developing regional growth trends and greater lessor and financier involvement”.

He adds: “We expect the helicopter market to be steaming ahead in 2014.”

Ascend expects the market to receive a similar number of deliveries in 2014: 1,034 units, compared with 1,027 deliveries in 2013.

Wills says 2013 was a mixed year, with “record deliveries on one hand, but slower sales, orders and the continuation of the corporate sector performing slowly on the other”.

Last year, Ascend produced its first helicopter forecast, and Wills admits 2013 deliveries “were slightly higher” than the consultancy expected.

“However, this was driven by the less visible high number of deliveries of light singles,” he says.

In other categories of the forecast, deliveries were “very close” to Ascend’s estimates – but deliveries of mediums and heavies were “slightly more” than forecast, while there were handovers of “slightly fewer” light twins than anticipated, he says.

Ascend expects around 28,000 turbine aircraft to be in service by 2023, with the growth rate at 3% per annum. Light singles are foreseen to be the largest contributor to deliveries in absolute numbers. However, the annual number of deliveries is not expected to grow “significantly” during the period.

The light and medium twins are forecast to be a “growing proportion of deliveries”, increasing from 400 to “over” 600 units in 2023, says Wills.

Heavy deliveries are expected to hold steady at 50 aircraft per year.

Ascend anticipates that the passenger, the emergency and medical service, and the search and rescue fleets will continue to grow at 5% annually. The corporate fleets are anticipated to grow at around 4%, “although the progression of this will be slightly more volatile dependent on the business cycle”, says Wills.

The offshore sector is expected to maintain steady controlled growth at 3%.

Ascend anticipates that North America will maintain its top ranking as the largest helicopter market, but will grow slowly at 1% per year to 2023.

Asia Pacific is expected to be the most rapidly expanding market with growth of 7% per year, followed by Latin America and Africa at 6%. The Middle East is forecast to grow at 5% per year, followed by the “mature” European market at 3%.