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Heli-expo deals evoke optimism, but forecasts paint darker picture

Two helicopter lessors delivered an overdue dose of optimism with a flurry of order announcements during Heli-Expo, but a major industry forecast paints a long-term pessimistic picture of the industry’s health.

General Electric-owned Milestone Aviation Group and independent Waypoint Leasing combined to order dozens of helicopters from Airbus and Leonardo with a combined list value of $411 million.

Milestone didn’t disclose the total number aircraft involved in the Airbus order, but the deal includes H135, H145 and H175 helicopters with a combined list value of $210 million. Leonardo also signed a deal with Milestone for six AW139s and three AW169s in a package valued at nearly $95 million. Finally, Waypoint committed to buy 16 more Airbus helicopters, including H135s, H145s and, for the first time, H175s.

The aircraft orders will “support growing demand for new technology” in the emergency medical services segment, says Milestone Aviation chief executive Daniel Rosenthal.

Ed Waschecka, chief executive of Waypoint Leasing, also sounded an optimistic note, detecting signs of “sustained demand for heavy aircraft in the market”.

Those encouraging notes contrast with a darker outlook presented in Honeywell’s annual market survey released on the eve of Heli-Expo.

Honeywell’s survey of the long-term acquisition plans for 1,000 operators suggests the market will demand 3,900 to 4,400 turbine-powered helicopter deliveries over the next five years, or an annual average between 780 to 800 aircraft.

Although that represents an improvement over the total number of turbine helicopters shipped globally in 2015, the total deliveries in the Honeywell survey declined by 4 percentage points compared to the same outlook released last year.

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