The helicopter blades market is anticipated to register a CAGR of over 3% during the forecast period (2020 - 2025).
- The demand for helicopters in both commercial and military sector is again increasing gradually after a drop-in sale in 2017 and 2018. Commercial helicopters are used in different areas, like tourism, medical and emergency rescue services, transportation, law enforcement, and offshore helicopter services. Demand for multi-role helicopter is higher in the military segment. Contracts for new helicopters will simultaneously generate demand for helicopter blades.
- Advancement in materials and technologies like 3D printing will support the growth of the market. 3D printing can accelerate product development and customization of existing products.
Key Market Trends
Increasing Demand for Military Helicopters
The advances in helicopter design have been slow as compared to fighter aircraft in the past. This is despite the fact that helicopters have been utilized in various defense missions. Changing nature of warfare and the need for tactical mobility have increased the demand for helicopters. The presence of military helicopters on the battlefield is essential as is their logistical applications. The ongoing helicopter projects can be seen as a positive step in the direction of military helicopter development. A military helicopter is a tactical platform that has evolved impressively over the years and has proved itself to be advantageous in the battlefield. Also, the need to replace aging helicopters has propelled the demand for newer generation helicopters. In 2019, the French Air Force placed an order for an additional H225M long-range tactical transport military helicopter from Airbus. The new helicopter will join the French Air Force’s existing fleet of ten H225M helicopters. Likewise, other countries that have placed orders in recent years for the H225M helicopter include Kuwait, Singapore, and Hungary. Earlier in September 2018, Boeing was awarded a contract worth USD 2.4 billion for up to 84 helicopters. The US plans to replace its more than 40-year-old UH-1N “Huey” helicopter fleet with Boeing’s MH-139 helicopter. Likewise, new orders have been placed by India and Thailand in recent years. Increasing orders will further propel the demand for helicopter parts and components including main and tail rotor blades.
Asia-Pacific to Witness Significant Growth in Market Share in the coming years
Helicopters have emerged as a preferred mode for point to point travel, especially in an urban scenario. This has led to the rapid growth of helicopter charter services, wherein several charter operators have placed orders for procuring new helicopters as part of their fleet modernization programs. The demand for helicopters is very high in China due to their critical use in air medical services, emergency response teams, search and rescue (SAR), and firefighting operations. In 2018, 89 turbine-engine helicopters were delivered in China, which represents a healthy 14% YoY growth. On this note, the first Airbus H215 helicopter was delivered to China’s State Grid General Aviation Company (SGGAC). The utility configuration of the delivered H215 helicopter is envisioned to facilitate operations such as cable repair, cable laying, cargo transportation, and power line pylons constructions in difficult-to-reach areas. Several helicopter OEMs are planning to enhance their market share in the region, especially in dominant countries such as China, India, Japan, and Australia. At the Airshow China 2018, Russian Helicopters signed a contract for supplying 20 Ansat helicopters to the Chinese Emergency and Disaster Relief Association. Since helicopter manufacturers are required to obtain type certification prior to initiating deliveries in a country, in February 2020, Russian Helicopters successfully obtained the type certificate for the Ansat light multipurpose helicopter and marks the prospect of commencing deliveries in China in the upcoming period. On the military front, several countries are awarding contracts for advanced multi-role helicopters to modernize their existing fleet. In September 2015, India penned a USD 3 billion deal for procuring 22 Apache AH-64E and 15 Chinook helicopters. In May 2019, the first Apache AH-64E was delivered to the Indian Armed Forces. As of February 2020, 17 AH-64Es have been delivered to India. Since helicopters in the region are scheduled to operate in a diversified climate, the helicopter blades may be exposed to several weather anomalies, resulting in potential strain and damage to the blades. Hence, aftermarket and maintenance services would be required to ensure airworthiness of the helicopter fleet. Hence, on account of the diversified plethora of applications that a helicopter can be used for, and the associated maintenance activities, the market in focus in Asia-Pacific is anticipated to witness higher growth during the forecast period.
Kaman Corporation, The Boeing Company, Carson Helicopters, Inc., Airbus SE, and Lockheed Martin Corporation are the prominent players in the helicopter blades market. Players, in order to increase their market share, are adopting advanced technologies like additive manufacturing to develop new blades as well as to increase their production rates. Helicopter OEMs are also developing new helicopter models that are expected to further generate demand in the coming years. For instance, In March 2020, Boeing has revealed details of its Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA), which is entering into the US Army Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA) prototype competition.
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