Airbus Helicopters eyes Asian rotorcraft requirements

For Airbus Helicopters, growth in Asia along with new opportunities in Eastern Europe and Latin America is projected to offset flat-lining markets in North America and Europe.
At the company’s annual presentation to the press in Paris, president Guillaume Faury noted that the most promising prospects were offered by oil and gas activity in the region as well as China’s burgeoning EMS sector.
‘The market is trending towards medium and heavy helicopters. This trend can be attributed to the vitality and the transport needs of the offshore oil and gas industry. We have seen investment in both exploration and production double over the past decade. By 2020, 109 new offshore platforms will likely be built, located at significant distances from the coast, accessed in most cases by helicopter,’ Faury said.
The company believes such trends will lead to increased demand for its EC225 and EC175 helicopters – the latter of which was recently approved for certification by EASA.
In China, the company’s long history of partnering with domestic industry may pay off in the next five or so years as the military loosens its grip on the country’s lower airspace.
‘In China the skies are starting to open and this is raising very high hopes, especially given the extent to which the country is under-equipped for its current and future airlift needs,’ Faury explained.
‘The current capacity represents just 350 civil helicopters, which is not much for a population of 1.4 billion spread across 9 million square kilometres. Last year just 25 to 30 civil helicopters were delivered by the industry. However, according to our projections, the pace should increase to around 200 helicopters a year by 2020.’
Dominique Maudet, executive VP of global business and services, added that EMS services were also expected to be increasingly established across China as the population demands access to such medical services. He also highlighted Vietnam and Malaysia as two countries with growing offshore oil industries.
While the end of January saw the global marketplace have second-thoughts about wisdom in investing in emerging markets – causing instability for emerging currencies – Faury downplayed the effect this might have on regional sales.
As an example, he highlighted Thailand where social unrest has cast a long shadow over the country’s economy. However, Faury argued that the nature of oil and gas activities meant the sector remained divorced from such economic indicators and the company remained bullish about opportunities there.

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