Airbus Helicopters sees further scope for growth in the helicopter market in the coming years, despite recording a mixed performance across its range in 2023.

Gross orders were up year on year to 410 – or 393 net – from 374 in 2022, while deliveries were broadly flat at 346 versus 344.

H125 -c-AirbusHelicopters

Source: Airbus Helicopters

Sales of the H125 fell by around 30% last year, but the type still captured a significant share of the single-engine market

Chief executive Bruno Even notes that the overall market is still 20% down on the levels seen in pre-pandemic 2019, leaving scope for more growth. Last year saw a “steady market” which was “still recovering from the low point of 2020”.

“For 2024, we continue to see good momentum globally in the helicopter market. We see potential to grow over the next year.”

The headline figures also disguise big swings at model level. While the H145 light-twin had a stellar year, seeing gross orders rise by 124% to 186 units – aided by a combined 104 orders from the French and German governments – other types faired less well.

Notably the H125 and H130 light-singles, normally reliable performers, showed a 32% fall in combined orders to 147 aircraft (108/39) from 216 (161/55) the year before.

High interest rates and a consequent reduction in access to finance for buyers played a part in the order decline argues Even.

And despite the weak sales, he points out that the pair still captured 75% of the overall market for light-singles in 2023.

The airframer continues to invest in the segment, he adds, with certification of an IFR-capable H125 expected later this year.

Lower orders last year were also recorded for the H135 light-twin – dropping to 29 from 41 in 2022 – and the H225, which saw zero orders against 14 the year before.

Airbus Helicopters did see orders rise for the H160 medium-twin – to 26 from 12 in 2022 – and for the H175 super-medium (14 v 8). A long-expected eight-unit order from France for the NH Industries NH90 for its special forces rounded out the commercial activity last year.