The Asia-Pacific Helicopters Market was valued at USD 2,428 million in 2020 and is projected to grow to about USD 4392 million in 2026 with a CAGR of approximately 8.8% during the forecast period (2021-2026).
The COVID-19 pandemic has a minimal effect on the helicopter market directly in the short term as the orders and deliveries have witnessed a decline in 2020. Furthermore, the COVID-19 pandemic has greatly affected the tourism industry in the region, thereby affecting the revenues of commercial helicopter operators. This is expected to hamper the demand for commercial helicopters in the coming years.
The demand for helicopters is anticipated to experience substantial growth during the forecast period, primarily due to their broad application base, especially in the civil and commercial sectors. Helicopters can be used for a wide variety of applications, including aerial lifts, air ambulances, aerial photography, law enforcement, and emergency rescue operations. The flexibility of use is achieved through minor modifications to the specifications of a helicopter, which is driving the procurement of new helicopters by active operators in various fields.
The need to deliver optimum safety has long plagued the growth momentum of the regional rotorcraft industry. Prolonged focus on safety innovations has resulted in the incorporation of enhanced safety mechanisms in modern helicopters. Such innovations are expected to encourage fleet modernization efforts of operators, which will have a positive effect on the sales of rotorcraft in the civil and commercial application segment.
Key Market Trends
Increased Demand for Military Helicopters is Expected to Drive the Growth of the Market
Over the years, military helicopters have developed into veritable instruments that perform a variety of tasks, ranging from attack, reconnaissance, and observation to airlifting troops, cargo resupply, firefighting, and medical evacuation. As several countries in the Asia-Pacific region look to replace their aging fleets with technologically-advanced helicopters, the military segment is expected to experience significant growth in the coming years. Australia, in mid-2019, issued a request for information (RFI) related to the future procurement of up to 29 attack helicopters to replace the army's 22 Airbus Helicopter Tigers. The indigenous development of attack helicopters in emerging markets in the region has also bolstered the military aspect of the Asia-Pacific rotorcraft industry. In August 2020, India deployed two of its Indigenously developed LCH helicopters in Ladakh amidst the ongoing military confrontation with China. Though the LCH is not weaponized yet, the deployment of such rotorcraft in a high-altitude region such as Ladakh is a display of their technical competence. An initial order for 15 LCH is likely to be placed by the end of 2020. Also, in August 2020, the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) unveiled the Z-8L, a 15-ton transport helicopter capable of transporting an all-terrain assault vehicle and other heavy equipment. It is expected to enter service with aerial assault troops and to play a major role in multiple scenarios including amphibious assault missions. On the other hand, countries like Malaysia, South Korea, Australia, and Pakistan are also planning to expand and replace their fleets of military helicopters, which is expected to generate demand for military helicopters in the region during the forecast period.
China was the Largest Market for Helicopters in Asia-Pacific in 2020
China has the second-largest fleet of civil helicopters in the Asia-Pacific region and is the fastest developing market in the region. The helicopter fleet of the country has witnessed a Y-o-Y growth of more than 5% consecutively over the past two years. As of 2019, there were 772 civil helicopters in service and the new helicopters added into the fleet are for law enforcement and emergency medical service applications. The demand for helicopters is expected to increase further in the coming years, due to an increase in demand for civil helicopters for applications such as VIP transportations, search and rescue, and news coverage, among others. The commercial aviation authorities and helicopter operators in the region are working closely for the introduction of new cross-boundary routes for the aerial commutation of tourist and business travelers. This is also expected to increase the demand for civil and commercial helicopters in the country in the years to come. On the other hand, the fleet of military helicopters in operation was 916 in 2019, with a majority of the fleet belonging to Russian-made helicopters (Russian Helicopters and Kamov) and indigenously manufactured helicopters (Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC)). Due to increasing tensions with its neighboring countries, the country is currently enhancing its air capabilities. The People's Liberation Army (PLA) has increased the operation of helicopters on the border of near Eastern Ladakh in 2020. Due to this, the country plans to induct 121 helicopters from Russia as of October 2020. The deliveries include acquisition of 68 Mi-171 helicopters (including the upgraded Mi-171E), 21 Ansat helicopters, 18 Mi-171Sh (military transport) helicopters, and 14 s Mi-171 helicopter with a VK-2500 engine. However, the country is working on acquisitions of indigenously manufactured helicopters and decreasing the total number of helicopters imports in its fleet. Over the past year, the PLA has unveiled various advanced helicopters, such as Z-20 medium-lift utility helicopters and upgraded Z-10 attack helicopters, which are expected to be inducted in the coming years.
Some of the prominent players in the Asia-Pacific Helicopters Market are Airbus SE, The Boeing Company, Leonardo S.p.A., Lockheed Martin Corporation, and Textron Inc. China is rapidly becoming a major market for Airbus, having witnessed significant orders for H135 and H160 helicopters in the past three years. The company, to expand its foothold, also opened a final assembly line for Airbus H135 helicopters in Qingdao, in East China's Shandong Province. The operations started in 2019. Airbus has also increased its civil helicopter sales to countries, like Japan, Thailand, South Korea, and the Philippines. In the defense segment, the company has been successful in striking deals with countries, like Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, and Australia, over the past five years. Product innovation, competitive pricing, local manufacturing, and more service centers are some of the factors that will help these companies remain competitive during the forecast period. Indigenous helicopter manufacturing in the Asia-Pacific region will further increase the competition for western players. OEMs are unveiling new helicopter models with features, like improved interiors or higher load carrying capacity, to attract new customers, which will help them strengthen their foothold in the regional market.
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