Flightglobal’s Ascend consultancy forecasts that the Asia-Pacific’s share of commercial helicopter deliveries will rise to 37% in 2025 from 26% in 2015.
In regard to specific roles, helicopters earmarked for business/private use will dominate, with 33% of deliveries, followed by utility/multi-role helicopters with 22%, and offshore support with 13%.
The assessment was shared by Chris Seymour, head of market analysis at Ascend, during a webinar hosted by the consultancy in association with Rotorcraft Asia, a civilian helicopter trade show that will take place in Singapore from 18-20 April 2017.
Seymour pointed to some clouds on the horizon. Deliveries are set to be flat in 2016 and could indeed fall, although new types in the light single, medium, and super medium segments are stimulating the market. He also notes a strong replacement market in the sector.
More specifically, a key challenge is the offshore oil & gas support market, which has been hurt by the falling oil price in recent years. He notes two ominous developments in particular, including the grounding of the Airbus Helicopters H225 and AS332L2 fleets owing to the fatal 29 April crash of an H225 in Norway, and the bankruptcy of CHC helicopters.
Ascend consultant Dennis Lau discussed market conditions specific to the Asia-Pacific. He noted that the region’s commercial helicopter fleet has grown 64% since 2005, with over 6,000 rotorcraft in service or stored by civilian or government operators.
In the Asia-Pacific the dominant role is utility, with 26% share, followed by business/private use with 25%. Areas such as law enforcement, emergency medical services, and VIP transport account for single digit shares.
By country, Australia dominates the region’s civilian helicopter fleet, with nearly 2,000 helicopters. It is followed by China and New Zealand, which have fleets just over 800, and Japan, with just under 800.
China has the region’s fastest growing civilian/Para public helicopter fleet, followed by India and Kazakhstan.
Lau, however, says that Chinese operators still face a number of regulatory constraints, and complain of "cannot fly, cannot land, no profit" dynamic. Challenges include time consuming flight approvals, airspace restrictions, lack of government support, and insufficient infrastructure.