ALLISON ENGINE'S annually issued ten-year turbine-helicopter forecast for the period to 2005 reveals considerably more optimism than the previous forecast unveiled at Heli-Expo '95. Overall sales are 46% higher than last year's estimates.

The company predicts that 6,105 civil turbine-helicopters will be required over the period, more than half of which (3,318) are expected to be light singles. Light twins, make up the bulk of the remainder, with 1,761, and intermediate twin 493. Medium twins at 365 and heavy twins at 168 make up the balance.

A total of 3,032 military helicopters, are expected to be supplied, the majority of, which (1,195) will be made up of medium and heavy twins. Attack helicopters will account for 400 utility, intermediate twins 462, light twins 272 and light singles 703.

"The overall increase of 46% is the result of a 33% increase in military requirements and a 54% increase in the civil-requirements forecast versus the January 1995 Allison ten-year forecast," says small-engines vice-president Tommy Thomason. Allison's change of thinking is linked to its own pick up in engine sales. "Quite clearly, with a 20% increase in orders two years running, something is going on," says Thomason. The civil market is expected to begin expanding in 1997, mainly in response to the aging fleet of helicopters born out of the rotary boom starting in 1977 and lasting through to 1982. "Some of those helicopters are 20 years old. Their replacement has been anticipated for some time and now, because improved helicopters with lower operating costs are available, for the first time there is a reason," says Thomason.

Following the 1998 peak in civil growth, the trend is expected to dip again slightly towards 2003, when the growing needs of China and Russia, are forecast to stimulate further growth. Military demand is forecast to be much steadier over the period than forecast for 1995, when the company predicted a dip from 1997 to 2000.

"The slippage in Comanche, Tiger and other major programmes continues to be a drag on the military market. However, there are small procurements projected in many countries which will maintain a steady flow of orders," says Thomason.

Another major driver to the trading uplift is expected to be the additional operating capability provided by the global-positioning system, about to be demonstrated for the helicopter world by the Atlanta Short-Haul Transportation System being developed for the Olympic Games.

"It's like finally getting windshield wipers and traffic lights," says Thomason.

See General Aviation, P21.

Source: Flight International