Operating lessors have underscored their growing importance in the rotorcraft sector with a total of 82 firm orders placed at the recent Heli-Expo show.
Although commitments from the leasing community were placed with AgustaWestland, Sikorsky and Airbus Helicopters, it is the latter that has seen the biggest benefit – of the 78 orders it secured at Heli-Expo, around 75% were from two lessors. Waypoint purchased 25 EC145T2s and 12 EC225s, while Lease Corp International bought six EC175s and up to 15 examples of the enhanced EC225e.
Milestone Aviation, meanwhile, added five AW139s and three AW189s to its orderbook as part of an existing framework agreement, alongside a further eight S-92s. LCI also committed to a total of eight AgustaWestland types – seven AW139s and a single AW189.
Although yet to be acquired by any lessors, Bell Helicopter did reveal the first potential customer for its developmental 525 Relentless super-medium helicopter, with Abu Dhabi Aviation signing a letter of intent for 10 examples.
Meanwhile, Airbus Helicopters has secured a follow-on order for two additional AS332 C1e rotorcraft from Starlite Aviation Group, which recently received its initial example of the aircraft. The aircraft will be deployed to Kosovo for utility and medevac work on behalf of the EU.
A second helicopter – which was displayed at Heli-Expo – will he handed over to Ireland-headquartered Starlite in the coming weeks.
Starlite initially placed two firm orders for helicopters with two options in November 2012. Those tentative commitments have now been confirmed, with deliveries due to take place in December.