The Global Civil Helicopter market continues to face significant headwinds with 2016 proving to be another of the very difficult years for the industry as of late with global civil helicopter deliveries declining by 15% year on year in 2016 & significant pressure on order intake with continued difficulties in the offshore oil & gas sector which is impacted by the ongoing slump in oil prices & overcapacity. The European players, which have traditionally dominated the civil helicopter segment, have been able to further consolidate their grip on the civil market by increasing their market shares further in 2016 with a better focused & aligned product portfolio mix & strategy for markets; as reflected by Airbus Helicopters’ further consolidation of market share in North America. However, Bell’s two key civil helicopter programs, namely, 505 Jet Ranger X, which entered service in late 2016 and the 525 Relentless, slated for EIS in 2017, are likely to give a significant fillip to Bell’s civil helicopter business & deliveries in 2017 while providing a serious challenge to European hegemony in the civil helicopter segment.
The turmoil & pressures for the civil helicopter segment are likely to stay over near term despite the onset of a recovery in crude oil prices with overall helicopter deliveries likely to remain flat in 2017. Most key industry OEMs, however, are realigning their overall, near term strategy focus towards military business with the global military helicopter market stabilizing as defense spending across most parts of the world regains traction & is poised to witness growth over near to medium term. Additionally, the OEMs are focusing on other segments in the civil market, led by, Corporate/VIP transport, General Utility and EMS/SAR to partially offset the ongoing demand slump in the oil & gas sector. The OEMs are also working towards expanding local roots across key growth markets globally to capitalize on potential growth opportunities more effectively and to drive growth from a long term perspective.
The long term fundamentals & drivers for the civil helicopter segment, however, remain strong and given that the civil helicopter market has traditionally remained resilient through economic cycles & the global financial crisis. Further, expansion of the degree as well as scope of utilization of civil helicopters across a range of user segments, the radical generational leap in technology with the development & commercialization of next generation technologies as well as tilt-rotorcrafts & compound helicopter designs and growing demand for & application of civil helicopters across emerging markets are likely to collectively provide significant traction to demand for civil helicopters over medium term.