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HAI: Honeywell trims five-year civil helicopter forecast

Honeywell has trimmed its five-year turbine-powered civil helicopter demand forecast to 4,000 units, down 5% from last year's forecast due largely to a sagging Latin American market.

Still, the 4,000 figure represents an annual 3-4% increase in deliveries between 2019 and 2023 and a 14% jump from the 3,500 helicopters delivered in the last five years, according to the Honeywell turbine-powered civil helicopter purchase outlook.

"Latin America… It was a surprise," Honeywell senior manager of marketing analysis Gaetan Handfield tells FlightGlobal. "This year they are saying, 'No, we are not going to buy.'"

Indeed, only 9% of Latin American operators surveyed expect to acquire new helicopters in the next five years, down from 35% last year.

Political and civil unrest and economic uncertainty are likely to blame, Handfield says, noting signs of particular declines in demand from operators in Mexico and Brazil. In Brazil, for instance, only 5% of respondents expect to acquire new helicopters in the next five years.

Globally, 15% of operators surveyed expect to purchase new rotorcraft within five years, down from 18.5% last year.

North American is a bright spot, with 18% of operators there planning fleet purchases within five years, up five percentage points from the last survey, Honeywell says.

North American operators, which fly about 40% of the world helicopter fleet, expect 65% of new helicopters will be light single-engined models.

Favourable tax provisions and strong demand from law enforcement and emergency medical services operators are helping the US market, says Handfield.

Honeywell notes that 20% of North American survey respondents expect fleet utilisation will increase in the next year, while 14% of global operators anticipate a bump.

In Europe, 15% of respondents expect to acquire new helicopters within five years, down from 22% last year, while 13% of Asia-Pacific-based operators plan new acquisitions, down five percentage points in one year. In the Middle East and Africa, 15% of operators have helicopter purchase plans, up from 10% last year, Honeywell says.

About half of helicopters delivered in the next five years will be light single-engined models, 31% will be intermediate and medium twin-engined models, 13% will be light twin-engined and 5% will be heavy multi-engined helicopters, Honeywell projects.

About 30% of the anticipated 4,000 new helicopters will perform general utility work, 21% will perform emergency medical and search-and-rescue missions, 20% will be used for law enforcement, 19% will be used for corporate purposes and 10% will fly in service of oil and gas operations, says the outlook.

Honeywell bases the outlook partly on a survey of about 1,000 operators of some 3,330 turbine helicopters, or about 13% of the world fleet.

Though the survey revealed "a slightly less positive view of the global economic outlook," Handfield notes Honeywell began collecting responses in December during a temporary but steep stock market dip, which might have affected responses.

The expected 3-4% annual delivery increase "signals an overall healthy helicopter market poised for moderate growth", Honeywell says. Rising oil prices and more-favourable currency exchange rates bode well for the industry's future, Handfield adds.

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