2012 was a record year for helicopter manufacturers

Many industries will want to forget 2012, but when writing about helicopter OEMs it  is hard to avoid overusing the word record in a good way.

Last week, Eurocopter announced a record turnover of Eu6.3 billion ($8.5 billion) for 2012. Sales were up 15% despite deliveries falling from 503 in 2011 to 475 commercial and military helicopters last year. Services now make up 42% of sales. Eurocopter has had an annual growth rate of 9% every year since 2006.

Bell made a record profit of $639 million from sales of $4.3 billion in 2012. It ended the year with a $7.5 billion backlog, up $1.2 billion from the September 2012. It delivered 188 commercial helicopters in 2012 versus 125 the year before. The Bell 429 has now received regulatory approvals for additional 500 pounds of lift capability in 14 countries including Canada, Brazil, China, and Chile. Bell says the new 407GX is also selling well.

Sikorsky ended the year with a record backlog of $14 billion after record orders of $10.9 billion in 2012. Sikorsky expects its 2013 profit to be down $100 million because of problems with the Canadian Maritime Helicopter program but its commercial business is doing well thanks to off-shore and SAR demand. It delivered 34 commercial helicopters in 2012 and aims to build more in 2012, particularly S-92s.

However, it is important not to get carried away. Scott Donnelly, chairman and CEO, of Textron says that Bell Helicopter has been over performing for the last few years. He warned analysts that they it could not keep ramping up production. But he added that he was hopeful that the commercial helicopter business would keep growing and could keep profits rising.

We will see more records in 2013.

Alasdair Whyte

Alasdair launched Corporate Jet Investor and Helicopter Investor in 2010. He has more than 15 year's experience as a financial journalist and has specialised in aviation for much of this time. As well as editing the website, Alasdair helps to organise our international conferences and events. He also regularly chairs them as well as other industry gatherings.

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