The corporate and private market is one of the most important in the world, both in terms of value and the number of helicopters delivered. The sales figures clearly illustrate the growth of this market, as does the importance attached to it by the major helicopter manufacturers – foremost among them Eurocopter.
Most people think that the corporate and private segment accounts for the largest share of the civil and parapublic market. In fact, taking all manufacturers together, this line of business is second in terms of value, behind the oil & gas market, which includes heavier and, therefore, more expensive aircraft. However, if one looks solely at the number of aircraft delivered, it is the corporate and private market that has been leading since 2005. “This segment represents 25% of the civil and parapublic market in terms of helicopters delivered,” explains Patrice Royer, the key segment manager (KSM) for corporate and commercial business at Eurocopter. “The reality, however, is difficult to assess because the sales are widely dispersed, and the helicopters are very often sold by the unit. The operators might be private customers flying their own helicopter or employing the services of a professional pilot, or they might alternatively be companies with a fleet of corporate aircraft. Whatever the case may be, the corporate or private helicopter offers a level of flexibility and travelling comfort that is absolutely unbeatable, and this largely makes up for the cost.”
The market is a hard task master and Eurocopter is in the typical situation of a pupil reading their school report: “good, but can do better”. Room for improvement exists, and Eurocopter holds all the cards for achieving its goals. The first ace up the company’s sleeve is a range of aircraft that fully meets the demand (see following pages). The group also has a solid sales and manufacturing presence in the regions that count, the most significant of these being North America.
The United States is the world’s largest corporate and private market. Business aviation started in the US and that is where 70% of the business is currently concentrated. The helicopter is no exception to the rule, and the US represents the biggest market not only in terms of unit sales, but also in terms of value. This is because many light and medium twins are sold in the US. The Old Continent is in second place, with the established market in Western Europe, and also the former countries of the Eastern Bloc starting to buy modern aircraft. Another important market is Latin America, where Brazil and Mexico are the major customers. In the vast cities of that continent, the helicopter offers the only viable alternative to the congested road network.
Patrice Royer concludes his tour of the globe: “Asia – and, in particular, China, Malaysia and India – is also driving growth. When its airspace is opened up, China will undoubtedly experience an explosive increase in demand. This is currently what is happening in the United Arab Emirates, where a market for VIP helicopters has emerged.” Now read on to discover how Eurocopter is responding to this fast-growing demand.