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The global air crane helicopter market size was valued at USD 4.93 billion in 2022 and is projected to grow from USD 5.55 billion in 2023 to USD 9.67 billion by 2030, exhibiting a CAGR of 8.3%.
Air crane helicopter, also known as aerial cranes or flying cranes, is a heavy-lift helicopter designed for carrying large and heavy loads. They are used for various commercial purposes such as firefighting, construction, logging, and other heavy-lift operations. They carry loads that are connected to long cables or slings to place heavy equipment, transport hefty materials, rooftop unit installations, utility construction projects, and others.
Initially, aerial cranes are used by the U.S. military for heavy lifting loads, typically around 2,000 to 3,000 pounds. the lifting capabilities of helicopters have greatly increased over time due to technological advancements. As a result, aerial cranes have become a widely used and preferred method for heavy lifting in industries such as construction and utilities, with the ability to lift loads of over 30,000 to 40,000 pounds. The global air crane helicopter market is expected to increase from 2023 to 2030 due to the growing demand for air cranes from firefighting and infrastructure projects.
Pandemic had a Significant Impact Due to the Reduced Demand and Production
The COVID-19 pandemic hampered the market growth. It has caused a widespread reduction in demand for aerial cranes due to the slowdown in construction and infrastructure projects, which are some of the biggest users of these helicopters. Moreover, several countries have implemented travel restrictions and lockdowns that have led to a decline in air travel, which has also affected the market growth since these helicopters are often used to transport people and goods. Furthermore, supply chain disruptions have impacted the production of air crane helicopter as several manufacturing plants shut down or operating at reduced capacity due to COVID-19 outbreaks.
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Technological Advancements and Product Developments to Fuel Market Growth
Key players are focusing on the development and deployment of advanced systems in helicopters to make them suitable for multiple missions. For instance, in March 2022, Erickson Incorporated, a Canada-based operator, unveiled the next generation water cannon. This accessory can be installed on the S-64 Air Crane® helicopter within a less period of time. The water cannon system offers benefits such as increased water flow, stabilization, maximum water reach distance, and articulation of water cannon in all directions. Operators use data analytics to improve safety, optimize repair and maintenance schedules, and cut costs. These factors will transform the market outlook.
Rising Demand from Defense Sector for Aerial Crane Helicopters to Augment Market Growth
Air crane helicopters are extensively used by military forces for a wide range of missions, including transporting troops and supplies, conducting search and rescue operations, and providing support during disaster relief efforts. They are capable of carrying heavy loads, which makes them an ideal choice for transporting large military equipment, such as tanks, artillery, and other heavy vehicles. Their heavy-lift capability and versatility make them suitable for defense agencies to perform multiple functions.
Additionally, increased defense expenditure leads to heavy investments in advanced helicopters to ferry cargo and other logistics. For instance, in December 2022, the U.S. Navy approved full-rate production for the Sikorsky CH-53K. The CH-53K King Stallion is a heavy-lift helicopter designed to transport equipment, supplies, and personnel over long distances in land and sea environments. Sikorsky has a contract with the U.S. Navy to build 200 CH-53K rotorcrafts, with the first deliveries expected to begin in 2023.
Growing Demand for Aerial Firefighting Helicopters to Propel Market Expansion
Aerial firefighting or water bombing is the use of helicopters to suppress wildfires. Air crane helicopters have become an essential tool in fighting wildfires around the world. They are equipped with belly tanks, snorkel systems, and water buckets to store water for firefighting. Some aerial cranes may also be equipped with other firefighting equipment, such as foam systems, to help extinguish fires.
The increasing frequency and severity of wildfires drive the demand for aerial cranes in firefighting. These helicopters can drop large amounts of water or fire-retardant chemicals from the air to control the spread of fires. Furthermore, the growing number of construction and infrastructure projects around the globe require the transportation of heavy equipment and materials to remote or hard-to-reach locations, which is predicted to catalyze market growth.
High Operational and Maintenance Costs to Hamper Market Growth
Aerial cranes are intricate devices that need a lot of maintenance to keep them operating safely and effectively. Particularly for older models, the cost of maintenance can be incredibly high because replacement parts become increasingly expensive and hard to find. In addition, highly qualified pilots and technicians are needed for air crane helicopter operation and maintenance. Longer lead times for repairs and maintenance as well as higher training expenses may follow, which may have an impact on the industry's productivity and efficiency.
In addition, operating such helicopters is more expensive than using an alternative due to the cost of fuel and insurance. During 2023-2030, these issues are anticipated to impede market expansion.
Above 15,000 feet Segment to Lead Owing to the Rising Demand For Aerial Cranes at High Altitudes
By Endurance, the market is segmented into up to 15,000 feet and above 15,000 feet. The above 15,000 Feet segment dominated the market in 2022 and is expected to be the fastest growing segment in the forecast period. Helicopters with endurance capabilities above 15,000 feet are designed for specialized applications such as high-altitude search and rescue missions, mountain operations, and others. These rising application ar expected to foster growth.
Up to 15,000 segments is expected to grow significantly due to the cost-effectiveness. Helicopters with endurance capabilities up to 15,000 feet tend to be smaller and less expensive than helicopters which are designed for higher altitudes.
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Above 20,000 Pounds Segment to Dominate Owing To Increased Demand For High Maximum Takeoff Weight (MTOW) Helicopters
The market by external load capacity is segmented into up to 10,000 pounds, 10,000 to 20,000 pounds, and above 20,000 pounds. External Load Capacity of a helicopter refers to the maximum weight of cargo, equipment, or other objects that a helicopter can carry externally beneath its fuselage by using its external hooks. The above 20,000 pounds’ segment dominates the air crane helicopter market share and is estimated to be the fastest growing due to the rising demand for heavy lift helicopters for various applications.
The 10,000 to 20,000 segment is predicted to witness significant growth during 2023-2030. The growth in the segment is rising demand of aerial cranes from utility sector.
Owing to Growing Infrastructure Development, the Power Line Construction Segment Dominates the market
The application segment is categorized into power line construction, aerial firefighting, oil & gas, logistics operations, and others. The aerial firefighting segment is projected to dominate the market during 2023-2030 owing to growing infrastructure development in emerging countries. The aerial firefighting segment is expected to witness major growth during 2023-2030.
Military Segment Dominates the Market Owing to Rising Fleet of Air Crane Helicopter for Military Applications
The market by end user is segmented into civil & commercial, and military. The civil & commercial segment is estimated to be fastest growing due to the rising demand for emergency services and increased demand for logistics transportation.
The military segment is predicted to witness moderate growth during 2023-2030. The dominance of segment is owing to the replacement and modernization of an aging fleet and increasing use in disaster relief and humanitarian missions.
North America Air Crane Helicopter Market Size, 2022 (USD Billion)
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In terms of geography, the market is divided into North America, Europe, Asia Pacific, and the Rest of the World.
North America dominated the market in 2022 and was valued at USD 1.74 billion in 2022. This region's growth is due to the increasing demand heavy lift helicopters and for modernizing their fleet. For instance, October 2022, the U.S. army has orders two additional Boeing CH-47F Block II Chinook helicopters as a part of modernizing its heavy-lift cargo helicopter fleet. The Boeing Company has received a USD 136 million contract from the Army to manufacture four CH-47F Block II helicopters in 2021. The Army has further announced a USD 63 million Lot 2 order, bringing the total number of contracted heavy-lift helicopters to six.
The market in Europe holds the second-largest share owing to the rising demand for air crane rotorcrafts in logistics operations. These helicopters are particularly useful in the transportation of heavy cargo, such as oil and gas equipment, machinery, and other large items.
Asia Pacific is the fastest-growing region owing to surge in construction and infrastructure development projects. These projects require the transportation of heavy materials and equipment.
The Rest of the World region is anticipated to witness a moderate growth in the market during 2023-2030 due to rising oil and gas exploration activities as aerial cranes are used to transport cargo and other equipment to oilrigs and other remote locations in oil and gas industry.
Expanding Applications, Developing Advanced Avionics, and New Systems, are Key Focus of Leading Players
The Boeing Company, Textron Inc., Columbia Helicopters Incorporated, Airbus Helicopters SAS, Lockheed Martin Corporation, and a few more major competitors dominate the global market. These companies hold the majority of the market share and are putting their money into R&D to create new systems, upgrade avionics, and extend applications. For instance, Rocket Lab, a US-based aerospace company and launch service provider, used a Sikorsky S-92 helicopter equipped with a hook on a long line to catch the first stage returning rocket parachute line at 6,500 feet after launching into space in May 2022.
An Infographic Representation of Air Crane Helicopter Market
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The market analysis and research report provides a detailed analysis of the market. It comprises all major aspects, such as R&D capabilities and optimization of the manufacturing process. Moreover, the air crane helicopter market trends offer insights into market growth opportunities and primarily highlights key industry developments along with latest market forecast. In addition to the above-mentioned factors, the market report mainly focuses on several factors that have contributed to the market growth over recent years.
CAGR of 8.3% from 2023 to 2030
Value (USD Billion)
Endurance, External Capacity, Application, End User and Geography
By External Load Capacity
By End User
As per the Fortune Business Insights study, the market size was USD 4.93 Billion in 2022.
The market is likely to grow at a CAGR of 8.3% over the forecast period (2023-2030).
The above 20,000 pounds segment is expected to lead the market due to the increased demand for high maximum takeoff weight (MTOW) helicopters globally.
The market size in North America stood at USD 1.74 Billion in 2022.
Rising demand from defense sector for aerial cranes growing demand for aerial firefighting helicopters are expected to drive the market.
Some of the top players in the market are Airbus Helicopters SAS, Lockheed Martin Corporation, The Boeing Company, Textron Inc., Columbia Helicopters Incorporated and others.
The U.S. dominated the market in the market in 2022.
High operational and maintenance costs hamper the market.
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