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Perspectives from the HELI-EXPO Convention


KippsDeSanto & Co. attended the HELI-EXPO convention, the largest rotary-wing gathering in the world, in Dallas, Texas on February 13 and 14.  The HELI-EXPO convention offers a unique opportunity to bring companies from along the supply chain – from OEMs to subsystems manufacturers to aftermarket services providers – in one of the most dynamic sectors of the aerospace / defense industry.

A key takeaway from the conference and conversations with suppliers is that the rotorcraft market is experiencing a bifurcation in growth and demand similar to what is occurring in the fixed-wing aircraft market.  On one hand, the commercial helicopter market is improving in 2012 and the sense is that 2011 was likely the trough of the cycle. 

In fact, according to a market forecast Honeywell released, “…the outlook still calls for overall industry growth for the five-year period 2012 through 2016, compared with the previous five-year period” and “specific purchase plans for 2012 remain very strong.”  Eurocopter also released a market forecast, which projects steady, growing demand in the civil sector, with military sales peaking in 2015 before entering a long steady decline.  And the military end market represents the flip side of the coin – given the defense budget dynamics both in the United States and across the world, military sales are expected to decline in the intermediate and long term.  The recent cuts to platforms such as the Bell / Boeing V-22 Osprey and Sikorsky’s UH-60 Blackhawk are just two examples of decreases in military platform spending.

Among the new product announcements, Bell Helicopter unveiled the 525 Relentless (pictured below), a new super-medium twin aircraft featuring Garmin’s G5000H helicopter avionics suite.  Expected to enter into service in 2014, the 525 is expected to fit Bell’s gap in that size of the market (vs. Agusta Westland and Eurocopter).

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