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The Asian-Pacific civil turbine fleet grew by 4.6 percent in 2018, a year that held a number of positive signs for the continent’s market, according to a new report from Asian Sky Group (ASG), an aviation specialist in the region.
The civil turbine helicopter fleet numbered 4,265 rotorcraft by the end of the year, according to the company’s Fleet Report: Year End 2018. This compared with 3.8 percent growth to 4,078 helicopters over the course of 2017.
It was another tumultuous year for the rotary market, ASG’s managing director Jeffrey C. Lowe wrote in the report. This was “due largely to the ongoing – and seemingly never-ending – downturn in the offshore oil and gas (O&G) market,” which has led to a continual oversupply of medium and heavy helicopters. OEMs have therefore reduced output, he wrote, while operators have reduced order books and delayed acceptance of previous orders. This has been felt acutely in the region, he wrote, “from Indonesia to Australia.”
However, “there are (finally) rays of sunshine cutting through the trees,” Lowe wrote, saying that the overall demand for light helicopters has increased and certain parts of the region are seeing significant growth in other mission categories, notably in emergency medical services (EMS).
“At the same time, the oversupply of aircraft has led to price reductions, which are now enticing some savvy buyers back into the market,” he added.
Lowe also pointed to a growing trend towards helicopter leasing in Asia, as well as the rise of smaller, independent, regional Asian operators. He highlighted the fact that “China has continued to develop, despite the additional headwinds of an economic slowdown.”
In a separate interview with Vertical, Nadav Kessler, ASG’s sales and business development director, said there had been “some interesting changes” in the Asia-Pacific helicopter fleet over the course of 2018. For example, it was the year in which China surpassed Japan in terms of fleet size, he said, becoming the second-largest fleet in the region behind Australia. According to the report, there were 853 civil turbine helicopters in Australia as of the end of the year, representing 20 percent of the region’s total fleet; mainland China had 16 percent of the fleet, or 667 helicopters, while Japan’s 649 platforms made up 15 percent of the total.
Other countries, meanwhile, have experienced changes driven by their respective primary mission profiles, Kessler added.
“Some countries’ fleets may have remained unchanged by absolute numbers, but there has been a notable number of movements as a result of replacements, fleet optimization and additions of newer or more advanced aircraft,” he told Vertical.
Finally, other countries – notably smaller nations in the Indochina area – have seen some new growth as a result of their developing economies, “in line with the region’s overall trend.”