March 7, 2019 - Airbus Helicopters (France) concluded the Heli-Expo 2019 with 43 new orders for its major civil product range, namely the H125, H130, H135, H145, H160, H175, and H225 aircraft across the globe. Of the 43 helicopters, 49% orders were from its longstanding customer, Air Medical Group Holdings (AMGH) (US), for a mix of single-engine H125s and twin-engine H135s. Airbus also launched a new version of its H145 helicopter at the expo, resulting in orders for 10 units and 9 retrofits.
MarketsandMarkets™ View Point:
A large share of the orders during the expo came from AMGH, the world’s largest independent provider of emergency air medical services. This is an indication of the increasing demand for helicopter emergency medical services. Another significant and strategic move by Airbus was the launch of the new version of its H145 helicopter at the expo, which resulted in retrofitting orders for 9 helicopters and 10 new unit orders.
These orders showcase the sustainability and growth of Airbus in the helicopter market. Airbus not only focuses on direct helicopter sales but also on aftermarket growth. It received a contract from the National Police Air Service (UK), for the global support of 19 helicopters, and the first HCare Infinite contract in North America from Super Helicopter Services for the delivery of 2 H125s. With the HCare Infinite contract in North America, Airbus is moving toward providing efficient support to customers across the globe, which is a major step in gaining additional share in the North American market.
IMPACT ON THE MARKET
The global helicopter market is projected to grow at a CAGR of 2.65% from 2017 to 2022. Major players including Airbus Helicopters, Bell Helicopter Textron Inc. (US), Leonardo S.p.A. (Italy), and others are focusing on the improvisation and sophistication of current models.
FIGURE: GLOBAL HELICOPTER MARKET BY REGION: 2015 TO 2022
Source: MarketsandMarkets™ Analysis
For instance, the Airbus H145 was upgraded to increase its maximum take-off weight by 100 kg and payload-carrying capacity by 150 kg. This was achieved using new bearing-less main rotors, aerodynamic modifications, and removal of the damping system, among others. Similarly, Bell’s upgrade of its Bell 412 from Special Performance to High Performance is expected to lead to improved performance and cost savings, ensuring better support for customers. These technological advancements by major players are expected to drive the growth of the helicopter market.
The Asia Pacific region is expected to have a growing demand for Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS) applications. Fabrice Rochereau, Vice President and Head of Sales for Airbus Helicopters, Southeast Asia Pacific, stated, “We believe that the overall market growth in the Asia Pacific will be at least 4 percent per year over the next 20 years.” Mr. Rochereau confirmed that the growth of this market in emerging economies is majorly for civil applications.
IMPACT ON COMPETITORS
The deal between Airbus and AMGH will not only drive competitors of Airbus to improve their business strategies for organic growth but will also drive those of AMGH to expand their fleet sizes through orders, from either Airbus or its competitors (Leonardo, Bell Helicopter, MD Helicopters, Inc.). This can be a significant opportunity for Airbus’ competitors to obtain orders from Air Methods Corporation, and PHI Air Medical, Inc.
Upgrades in helicopters and improvised customer service have enabled Airbus to secure a 54% market share. With 43 orders at the Heli-Expo 2019, Airbus’ order book in the first quarter of 2019 has risen significantly. Bell Helicopters has been supplying the US Army fleet for the last 4 decades; however, the US Army now plans to acquire 150+ UH-72A Lakotas (military version of EC145) from Airbus, which are expected to replace Bell’s trainer aircraft fleet. This has been possible due to the launch of Airbus’ new H145 with multi-mission role capabilities.
Leonardo’s AW169 has recently been introduced in the market and has greater capabilities for offshore oil & gas support services in addition to hosting multiple roles ranging from various para-public, government, military, and naval missions to corporate transport, air ambulance services to law enforcement, and utility roles. The AW169 competes with the Airbus H145; however, well-proven customer belief and Airbus’ better business strategy are helping it lead the market currently.
Though the global helicopter market is growing at a moderate pace, upgrades in helicopters, technological sophistication, and multi-mission capabilities are expected to drive the market further. Asia Pacific is projected to be one of the fastest-growing markets with a high demand for HEMS in the region.