Eurocopter Sees Civilian Slackening as Military Rises
Eurocopter recently reported its 2009 figures, and offered forecasts for 2010. While Robinson is far and away the leading global helicopter builder by numbers, Eurocopter is generally accepted as the #1 firm when measures include order value, competition across multiple major segments, etc. This makes their fate and forecasts an interesting bellwether for the sector.
In general, the global economic crisis has hammered the civil market for light helicopters, and the firm sees continuing weakness and further production scale-backs in 2010. On the other hand, the firm is seeing a significant uptick in military orders (48% of sales in 2009), thanks to the demands of counter-insurgency warfare, and the natural aging and replacement cycle drive new purchases around the world.
2009 civilian and military orders were placed for 344 production helicopters as follows:
- 8 EC120 Colibri
- 103 from the AS350/355 Ecureuil/Fennec/EC130 family
- 58 EC135s
- 63 EC145s (including 51 UH-72A Lakotas for the US Army)
- 9 from the Dauphin/Panther/EC155 family
- 81 from the Super Puma/CougarEC225/EC725 family. These orders were especially important because they are high-value purchases, offsetting the overall order number decline across Eurocopter’s lines.
- 22 NH90s
Overall backlog increased by over EUR 1 billion to 1,300 helicopters / EUR 15.1 billion (about $21B at current exchange rates). In 2010, the firm expects to offset lower civilian production with increased military work.
Eurocopter says that its bookings for support and services have grown consistently by an average of 10 – 15% over the past 3 years, and 2009 saw 3 major orders. One is for the retrofit of 26 German Army CH-53Gs for combat search and rescue, one involves Life Extension of 28 UK Pumas, and a 3rd covers the retrofit of 34 Brazilian Army Panthers. See also EADS release.