Airbus expects helicopters to take off due to energy crisis and military spending

Airbus expects helicopters to take off due to energy crisis and military spending


Written by Tim Hever

MARNIEN, France (Reuters) – New orders and deliveries will continue to grow this year, the CEO of Airbus Helicopters told Reuters, as the scramble for new energy supplies and increased military spending accelerate the long-sluggish recovery of the helicopter sector.

And thanks to critical public services, demand for helicopters has suffered less battered by COVID-19 from the shutdown airline industry. But a looming energy crisis and a rethinking of priorities amid the war in Ukraine added fervor to the recovery.

โ€œWe expect a very strong year in terms of order numbers and especially in terms of value,โ€ Airbus CEO Bruno Even said, as the world’s largest civilian helicopter manufacturer celebrates its 30th anniversary since its launch in a Franco-German merger.

โ€œWe also expect revenue growth, which will be supported by growth in services and helicopter delivery.โ€

Demands have already soared thanks to a major French military order, reaching a record 8.55 billion euros ($8.53 billion) in 2021 after a decade of overall decline led by offshore oil companies. More military contracts have been booked this year.

“2021 was really a turning point compared to previous years, which were difficult for the industry,” he told Reuters.

He added that flight hours, which drive service revenue that makes up nearly half of Airbus Helicopters sales, are now back to pre-COVID 2019 levels and the number of available used helicopters โ€” a brake on new sales โ€” has decreased.

โ€œWe are seeing the first positive signs in the oil and gas market (and) positive signs of recovery in activity and flying hours,โ€ Evin said.

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The average number of oil rigs worldwide increased 24% in the first eight months of 2022, compared to the same period last year, but is still below 2019 levels, according to Baker Hughes.

Any offshore recovery can benefit from fuel-efficient, cleaner models like the new H160, as it forms on a streak pulsing forward on automated guided vehicles inside France’s giant Marignane helicopter plant in an effort to reduce lead times.

“There has been a significant lull in the oil and gas sector for a long time,” said program director Jill Armstrong. “We note that operators are very concerned about containing their own emissions.”

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do not worry

In the nearby low light tall helicopter building, three lines of small H125/H130 helicopters are gradually accelerating.

Now in its fifth decade, the Ecureuil or Squirrel family is the world’s best-selling helicopter. Demand for the Jack-of-all-trades vehicle has outpaced larger units during COVID-19.

Light Helicopters President Axel Aluchio said Airbus aims to build 180-190 single-engine helicopters this year, rising above 200 in 2023. In 2020, production fell to 130 units before recovering to pre-existing levels. COVID by around 160 units in 2021.

Airbus said on Friday that the Brazilian military had ordered 27 H125 helicopters for training.

However, a sharp rise in inflation has injected new risks this year. Evin said a series of crises, including the coronavirus, have spread supply chain disruption beyond chips.

“There is no need to worry…it is about the entire aviation industry,” he said in an interview.

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Asked if supply pressures were improving, he said, “No, it is an area of โ€‹โ€‹tension and will remain so in the coming months.”

The former engine industry executive admitted that US certification for the H160 was taking longer than Airbus originally expected, but he expected it to come this year.

The medium-sized helicopter was approved for services by Europe in 2020 and has since been cleared in Brazil and Japan.

“We cooperate closely” with the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), he said.

The Federal Aviation Administration, widely seen as taking longer to grant approvals since the Boeing (NYSE: 737) crisis, along with slowing meetings during COVID-19, declined to give a timetable.

“Safety dictates the schedule…we cannot discuss ongoing certification projects,” an FAA spokesperson said.

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