Heli Expo 2014 Kick Starts Industry Revival.

Heli Expo 2014 Kick Starts Industry Revival.

Some large-scale sales, new helicopters and general increasing optimism in the future were key features of this year’s exhibition held in the Anaheim Convention Centre, which hosted 20000 industry professionals, more than 700 competitive exhibitors, over 60 helicopters on display and more than 50 educational opportunities, including education courses, seminars, workshops and forums.

Honeywell Aerospace, as usual, started the expo proceedings with its five-year civil helicopter forecast by saying it expected between 4800 and 5500 civilian-use helicopters to be delivered during 2014-2018.

Overall demand remains steady versus the 2013 forecast, with large fleet operator requirements offsetting a moderate softening in new helicopter purchase plans reported in the 2014 Honeywell survey.

Latin America continues to lead all regions in new purchase rates, with up to 32% of respondent fleets slated for turnover with a new helicopter replacement or addition.

The forecast of civil turbine-powered helicopter purchases has the five-year share of demand from the US and Canada at 26%, which, combined with Latin America, represents 50% of the total global demand.Europe’s share closely follows with 23% ,with the Asia-Oceania region accounting for 19% and Africa and the Middle East ranking under 8% .

“Global demand looks steady on the heels of strong 2013 performance,” said Tom Hart, vice president defense and space sales, Honeywell Aerospace.”Utility helicopter purchase interest is trending upward. Helicopter replacement cycles and increased operating hours in the law enforcement and oil and gas industries helps sustain demand in those sectors.” he said.

“Operators who intend to purchase a helicopter within the next five years noted that the age of their current aircraft, contracted replacement cycle and warranty expiration were key drivers for their decision. For those surveyed, the make and model choice for their new aircraft is strongly influenced by range, cabin size, reliability and safety, hot/high performance, and brand experience,” Hart explained.

BELL SELLS BIG

At Heli-Expo 2014 Bell opened with a bang by unveiling the Bell 505 Jet Ranger X designed to redefine the short light singles (SLS) class.

“Bell Helicopter changed the face of the industry nearly 50 years ago with the introduction of the legendary Jet Ranger,” said John Garrison, CEO of Bell Helicopters, at the unveiling.”Today we reveal the Bell 505 Jet Ranger X, the high-performance, high-value aircraft our customers have been asking for in this category. Not only is the Bell 505 competitively priced, it offers a combination of features, capabilities and support customers have come to expect from Bell Helicopter.”

The customer -driven design of the Bell 505 Jet Ranger X places safety, performance and affordability at its forefront, blending proven systems with advanced technology and a sleek, modern design.

The Garmin G1000H integrated avionics suite provides pilots critical flight information at a glance to maximize situational awareness. Pilot workload is further reduced by the Turbomeca Arrius 2R engine with dual channel full authority digital engine control (FADEC).

The Bell 505 features a high inertia rotor system delivering superior auto rotation capabilities. With the combination of speed, range and useful load, the Jet Ranger X is designed to deliver best-in-class performance.

In addition ,the company’s exhibition area included a new mock-up of the Bell 525 Relentless configured for search and rescue missions, a Bell 407GX,and a Bell 429WLG.By the end of the first day, Bell completed more than 100 signings that included the Bell 505 Jet Ranger X, 407GX, Bell 412EP and Bell 429.

Customer commitments to purchase new Bell helicopters rose to 196 aircraft by the show’s end. The full signings inked at this year’s Heli-Expo show include: 171 letters of intent for the Bell 525 Relentless; eight orders for the Bell 407GX; five orders for the Bell 412EP and two orders for the Bell 429.

Summarizing Bell Helicopter’s participation in this year’s Heli-Expo show, Garrison said:”We continue to put our customers first in everything we do and are pleased to see continued returns on this investment.”

New Scout Attack Helicopter

As usual, colorful and fascinating Lynn Tilton, head of MD Helicopters, drew a crowd of reporters at Heli-Expo when she released details of its new MD530G armed aerial scout helicopter.

The MD 530G is the latest in a lineage that spans more than 50 years of scout attack evolution.

Sikorsky Seeks Foreign Markets

Rising foreign defense spending more than offset the decrease in US defense spending, or so American helicopter manufacturer’s hope.

Although US Military spending accounts for about two-thirds of Sikorsky’s helicopter business, Mick Mauerer, president of the company, believes that rising foreign spending will cause it “all to come out in the wash”.

“US defense spending is down by 26% from 2011 to 2014, but foreign defense spending is up some 55% ,” he told reporters .

However, Sikorsky nevertheless is planning a series of layoffs of salaried employees over the next few weeks.

The United Technologies company displayed the S-97 Raider at Heli-Expo,a demonstrator scheduled to fly by the end of the year-the first application of the co-axial rotor technology, which set helicopter speed records two years ago on the X-2 technology demonstrator. The Raider is a composite high-speed armed aerial scout concept.

The SB1 Defiant, a future vertical lift design developed in partnership with Boeing Helicopters, is further into the future but still leverages X-2 technology. The Defiant is meant to be a replacement for the Black HAWK AND Apache helicopters, promising orders of more than 4000 helicopters worth some $ 80 billion.

Enstroms New Trainer

Several new helicopter types were introduced during the convention, including a new trainer model by Enstrom Helicopters which showcased the newest member of its family, the TH180, which is based on Enstroms solid reputation for safety and customer support with additional focus on low operating costs and ease of learning.

“The TH180 is designed with the student in mind. Its rugged frame with robust, energy-absorbing landing gear delivers wide margins of safety during the learning process,” said Bill Taylor, Director of Engineering.

“In addition, the high inertia main rotor provides excellent auto rotation characteristics and, coupled with the airframe design, contributes to the helicopters unparallel stability. The high inertia main rotor blades and articulated hub combine with the unblocked tail rotor to produce amazing controllability and very forgiving handling qualities.

Orland Alaniz, Director of Sales and Marketing, added:” The TH180 is also designed for the flight instructor. Mechanical controls provide direct feedback to the pilot; a basic system prepares the student for a variety of future flying opportunities.”

More New Trainers

The Guimbal Cabri G2, the first of this type in the USA, was shown at the HAI Heli-Expo following its delivery to Precisions managing director, David Rath, who signed the delivery with Bruno Guimbal, president and CEO of the manufacturer Guimbal.

“Operating a large range of helicopters including Hughes/Schweitzer/Sikorsky 300C and CBi since 1983, Precision was facing a challenge to replace these aging machines with more modern ones offering an even greater level of safety,” said the firm’s founder, Nancy Sturdevent, who started the company with her late husband, Dennis, in 1983.

The Cabri G2 features state-of-the-art technology for rotors and cockpit, including digital vehicle system and crash worthiness.

These attributes, combined with its flight characteristics, has attracted a number of professional schools including the Polish Air Academy, the Lithuanian Air University, and National Vietnam Helicopters, among 32 other operators worldwide.

Anthony A Juma is the Editor and Director Commercial and Flights Operations at Wings Over Africa Aviation Limited. This is an Air Charter Company that specializes on Helicopter passenger & Cargo flights. The website has guided thousands of travelers to achieve their dream holiday. For more information and guidance, visit the site at http://www.wingsoverafrica-aviation.com/index.php/services/helicopter-safaris.html