Leonardo will deliver more helicopters in 2018 than last year as the Italian aerospace group sees a recovery in its rotorcraft operation.

Chief executive Alessandro Profumo said, during a 30 July results briefing, that the manufacturer would have handed over 90 helicopters by the end of the month – five units more than during the same period last year. For the full year, Profumo forecasts “at least” 175 deliveries, against an output of 149 units in 2017.

Leonardo has raised production volume for the AW101 military helicopter - notably for a search and rescue contract with Norway - and says that deliveries of AW139 intermediate- and AW189 super-medium-twins have also increased.

Demand for the AW139 – which Profumo describes as the manufacturer’s most profitable helicopter programme – is “better than expected”, he says.

Finance chief Alessandra Genco notes that the company’s helicopter sales today are largely driven by operators in the emergency medical services and SAR segments, while demand from the offshore energy sector is still “lagging”, with no recovery in the “short term”.

However, Leonardo’s helicopter business is “performing in line” with a recovery plan for the division, she says.

In 2017, deliveries declined as a result of flat helicopter demand and production issues, particularly on the AW169 medium-twin.

Meanwhile, Profumo says that a tentative contract with Qatar for 28 NH Industries NH90s will be finalised “very soon”.

The Gulf country intends to order 12 NH90 NFH naval helicopters, and 16 TTH troop transports, with deliveries scheduled to run from 2022 to 2025.

Leaonardo, which is prime contractor for the deal, should take a 40% share in the €3 billion ($3.51 billion) contract.

The NHI consortium is owned by Airbus Helicopters, Fokker and Leonardo.

Source: FlightGlobal.com