Farewell to 2018 and hello to the future of rotorcraft.
Receding is a year full of exciting technological advancement, helicopter heroics through hellish disaster and the laying down of a firm foundation for revolutionary leaps ahead for rotorcraft. Coming into view is a potentially prosperous year for manufacturers, customers and operators, complete with first flights, certification of revolutionary new aircraft and groundbreaking new technologies.
You’ll find in our non-exhaustive roundup of rotorcraft news that the past year has been a momentous one for rotorcraft (“2018 Year in Review"). I am sure there are major events, milestones and/or technological hurdles cleared that we failed to include, but we have limited space in the magazine.
Some of the most influential helicopter happenings of the year may yet occur between this printing and Dec. 31, namely the U.S. Army’s award of the Improved Turbine Engine Program (ITEP) that will re-engine the AH-64 Apache and UH-60 Black Hawk, and the first flight of Sikorsky and Boeing’s SB-1 Defiant compound future vertical lift contestant. Both are scheduled to occur by year’s end.
Next year should see certification of the Leonardo AW609 commercial tiltrotor, the Bell 525, the Airbus Helicopters H160 and envelope expansion of the Bell V-280 Valor, Sikorsky-Boeing Defiant and Sikorsky S-97 Raider. Kopter should gain European certification of the long-in-development SH09, and the U.S. Navy will choose a new training helicopter. What a time to be alive with an eye on the sky.
We also turn an eye to the future, where 2019 should be a banner year for global rotorcraft sales and market growth (“2019 Outlook: Optimism & Growth”). An expected resurgence in the oil-and-gas sector could bolster helicopter sales, but EMS, law enforcement, firefighting, VIP transport and offshore wind are also all growth industries that will create demand for helicopters. The largest demand for sheer numbers of helicopters is expected to come from China, then the U.S. and Europe.
Pratt & Whitney Canada has its sights set on China, which VP of Helicopter Engine Sales Nicolas Chabee said (“2019 Executive Outlook” ) “is forecast to be the largest potential market for new helicopter sales."
After a series of government scandals that drove down foreign investment, Brazil this year elected a new president whose economic policies could breathe fresh life into the helicopter market there, (“From a Troubled 2018 Onward”). The country’s oil-and-gas market, hit by a corruption scandal at Brazil’s state-owned oil company Petrobras, should begin to recover and a joint venture between Embraer and Boeing could see helicopters built domestically starting next year. Will Brazil revitalize the South American commercial and defense rotorcraft markets?
Some somber news to end on. This is Senior Managing Editor Amy Kluber’s final issue of Rotor & Wing International. Amy will move on to continue her journalism career elsewhere in the Washington, D.C., area, and we wish her the best.
In her 3.5 years at our parent company Access Intelligence, Amy has carved out an indispensable role writing, editing and managing the production schedules for both R&WI and sister publications Avionics International and Defense Daily. She hatched the idea for and oversaw the launch of our new R&WI Insider newsletter, among many other accomplishments. She has a sterling reputation in the helicopter industry and will be difficult to replace. Join me in wishing her fair skies to her next destination. RWI