Demand for civil helicopters will remain fairly flat at around 500 new machines per year over the next 10 years, according to the latest forecast from Rolls-Royce.

The greatest demand will be in the light twin-turbine sectors, while the military will grow faster, fuelled by demand for new medium and large machines.

Across the whole industry, the R-R forecast envisages demand for 9,800 machines over the next decade (55% in the civil sector), representing growth of 1.1% per year. "We expect the civil helicopter market to continue showing strength but remain relatively flat in terms of new helicopter deliveries and new model introductions," says R-R president, helicopter engines, Stuart Mullan.

A five-year civil sector forecast from rival manufacturer Honeywell broadly concurs with R-R, identifying a need for 2,550 turbine-powered engines by 2005.

Both forecasts say single-turbine machines such as the Eurocopter EC120 and Bell 407 will continue to account for around half the market (not including piston-powered single-engine types). It will be followed by the light twins, led by growing demand for types such as the Bell 427 and Agusta A109 Power for emergency service use.

Honeywell notes that an added driver in the twin-engine sector will be a new European regulation outlawing most single-turbine operations over urban areas, coming into force 2004.

R-R's military survey forecasts demand for 3,235 new helicopters by 2010, representing 5% growth - much of it due to fleet replacement programmes and the advent of the Eurocopter Tiger, NH Industries NH-90 and Boeing/Sikorsky RAH-66. R-R also sees demand for nearly 1,400 engine upgrades over the next decade for types including the Boeing CH-47F, Sikorsky UH-60M/X and CH-53X, and the UK's Westland Lynx.

Source: Flight International