Turbines get boost from Latin America

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Europe slips to third place in Honeywell market forecast

Honeywell forecasts deliveries of more than 2,600 turbine-powered civil helicopters over the next five years, up 15% over the last five years, buoyed by strong demand from Latin America. The US aerospace supplier says deliveries were up 24% last year and are likely to rise again this year.

North America accounts for 43% of deliveries forecast by Honeywell for 2006-2010, but the growing economies of Brazil, Mexico and Venezuela have vaulted Latin America into second place with 25% of projected demand. Europe has slipped to 15% of expected purchases, from 18% in last year’s survey, while demand in Asia, Oceania, Africa and the Middle East remains around 20%.

Light single-turbine helicopters make up 55% of the projected deliveries, with a surge in demand in Europe to 48% of planned purchases from an average of 30%. Singles account for around 70% of deliveries in North America, while Europe historically favoured twins because of regulations requiring multi-engined aircraft. But some operators now say twins are uneconomic in Europe, where Honeywell found “unexpectedly strong demand” for Eurocopter’s AS350B3 single.

Demand for light twins rose modestly to 18%, led by Asia and Oceania at 37% of projected purchases. Intermediate twins accounted for 25% of forecast deliveries and heavylift helicopters 1.6%, down from 4% from last year.

Corporate remains the biggest user segment, says Honeywell, with 31% of projected deliveries – and half of all demand in Latin America. Law enforcement is the fastest growing segment, up to 25% to 13% in the 2005 survey, with US operators expecting funds for new helicopters for homeland defence to materialise.

Emergency medical service purchase expectations fell from 22% to 14%, with the biggest drop in Europe, while forecast demand for utility helicopters slipped from 15% to 11%, despite increased interest in Europe and Latin America. Projections for the offshore market slipped from 10% to 8% of deliveries, with highest demand in Africa and the Middle East.

Honeywell says aircraft age and the desire for a bigger cabin, more range, more power and, in Latin America, more speed – as well as better technology – is driving demand for new helicopters. The company sees little desire to trade up, over 80% of projected purchases being replacement aircraft in the same size and price range.

GRAHAM WARWICK / WASHINGTON DC