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The global air crane helicopter market size was valued at USD 2.81 billion in 2019 and is projected to reach USD 3.22 billion by 2027, exhibiting a CAGR of 3.86% during the forecast period.
Air Crane helicopters are used to carry heavy loads. These air crane type of helicopters used slings or long cables to carry heavy equipment from one place to another. Increasing demand for Air Cranes is from remote locations as these are used for a variety of applications such as emergency response, disaster relief, aerial firefighting, and others. At the Heli Expo 2020, Erickson Incorporated introduced the air crane S-64F+ to the market. The new S-64 + will have a modern engine, enhanced fuel efficiency, new composite main rotor blades, advanced flight control, and cockpit systems. In 2019, more than 12 million acres were charred in Australia. There were six Erickson S-64 Air Cranes used in Australia’s record-setting wildfires.
Helicopter Industry is Facing Unprecedented Challenges amid COVID-19 Pandemic
The global impacts of the COVID-19 have already started to be felt and will significantly affect the market in 2020 and 2021. The reduction in demand for air crane services from different end use industries such as transportation, logistics operations, and construction has changed the dynamic of this industry.
The spread of the coronavirus resulted in a slowdown in production and delay in air crane helicopter deliveries across the globe. Several contracts were kept on hold due to lockdown in most countries. These lockdowns have also created hurdles in raw material supply, interruptions in the supply chain, and have impacted inventories. For example, in 2016, the U.S. Forest Service signed a four-year contract with Erickson, Inc. for Type 1 firefighting helicopters services that expired on April 30, 2020. The company did not renew the contract due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
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Technological Advancements in Sling Load Systems and Avionics to Boost Growth
In recent years, the air crane helicopter industry has been witnessing a strong growth due to the demand for these air crane types of helicopters with high load carrying capacity and advanced avionics. The helicopters are installed with a cargo hook suspension system that provides quality and improved efficiency. The incorporation of advanced suspension systems leads to reduced maintenance costs, enhanced safety, and improved utility.
In January 2020, for instance, Erickson Incorporated signed a contract with Sikorsky to develop matrix technology for autonomous and semi-autonomous operations of the S-64 Air Crane. With next-generation navigation systems and flight controls, Erickson Incorporated will improve cockpit awareness and pilot safety during day and night firefighting helicopter operations. In March 2020, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approved a new composite main rotor blade for the Erickson S-64E Skycrane. It provides various advantages such as higher lift capacity in all weather conditions, lower maintenance costs, and less fuel consumption.
Growing Power Line Construction Projects in Asia Pacific to Propel the Market
Air-Crane helicopters have numerous applications in power line construction and infrastructure projects in the Asia Pacific region. Transportation of electric wires and other power line equipment drives the growth of this market. Growing urbanization and rising expenditure on power projects in underdeveloped countries boost the growth of the air crane helicopter services in the region. In 2018, for instance, Sterlite laid down 1000 megawatt (MW) power transmission lines in Jammu and Kashmir. The company used heli-cranes to transport and airdrop 80 towers in the mountains.
There is also increasing demand for air cranes in oil & gas offshore operations as they are used for equipment transportation, recovery, and rescue support for the offshore workforce. The demand for air cranes in the oil and gas industry is not only for robust search and rescue but also for essential safety for oil and gas extraction companies working in offshore marine environments.
Rising Demand for Aerial Firefighting and Cargo Lifting to Drive the Market
Increasing demand for air cranes from the military sector due to their application in operations such as search and rescue, troop transportation, and cargo transportation boosts the market growth for Air Crane helicopters. This is attributable to the rising bush fire incidences, power line construction, growing use of heavy-lift helicopters, logging, and others. Air Crane OEMs such as Bell, Lockheed Martin Corporation, and Kaman Corporation are focusing on the development of modern helicopters that provide applications such as water dropping, emergency response, logistics operations, and others. The Kaman Corporation is leading in the technological advancement in the development of unmanned Kaman K Max helicopter variants for different applications.
Limited Hook Load Carrying Capacity and High Costs Associated with Suspension Systems Hampers Market Growth
Air Crane helicopters are mostly used for commercial and military operations such as heavy lift, oil & gas, emergency response, logging, and others. These lift rotorcrafts are required to carry the high load for transportation and in power line construction projects. Limited external load carrying capacity and high cost of development of new helicopter models are key factors hampering the growth of the market. There are cracking problems due to higher load stress on multiple parts, which helicopter manufacturers are looking to address. For example, Onboard Systems introduced a complete cargo hook suspension system that reduces maintenance cost, improves safety and utility.
Power Line Construction Application Dominated the Market in 2019
Based on application, the market is segmented into aerial firefighting, power line construction, logistics operations, oil & gas, and others. The power line construction segment held the highest share for this market in 2019. Increasing demand for air cranes for heavy lift operations at the power line construction sites for improved operational efficiency drives the growth of the market. Air cranes can lift heavy power line equipment up to 11,000 kg external loads, and are thus used for infrastructure and power line construction projects.
The aerial firefighting segment is anticipated to show significant growth owing to increasing bush fire incidences, and advanced water-dropping facilities installed in firefighting helicopters. Growing contracts between forest services and air crane helicopter operators and the growing need of helicopters for fire suppression operations in remote locations propels the growth of the segment.
The oil & gas segment showcases remarkable growth due to the expansion of oil & gas extraction activities. The other segment will witness moderate growth due to the increasing use of air cranes for emergency response caused due to natural calamity, logging operations, and disaster relief.
Growing Demand for Air Cranes Operating at Higher Altitude to Propel Growth
Based on endurance, the market is classified as up to 5,000 feet and up to 10,000 feet. The up to 10,000 feet segment held the highest share in the market in 2019. The growing demand for air cranes with higher load-carrying capacities at greater heights drives the growth of the market. Air cranes are used for different commercial applications such as logistics operations, power line construction, and others in urban areas. Thus, these air cranes are required for conducting operations at greater heights owing to their high load-carrying capacity.
The up to 5,000 feet segment is estimated to show significant growth due to rising demand for heavy lift operations.
Up to 3,000 Pounds Segment to Showcase Highest Growth
Based on external load carrying capacity, the market is segmented into up to 3,000 pounds, up to 6,000 pounds, up to 12,000 pounds, and up to 15,000 pounds. The up to 12,000 pounds’ segment dominated the market with the highest share in 2019. Increasing demand for helicopters such as the Super Puma helicopter with high load carrying capacity for heavy lift operations drives the growth of the segment. Air cranes used for military operations such as cargo transportation and troop transportation require higher capacity for efficient operations.
The up to 3,000 pounds’ segment is anticipated to show the highest growth owing to the growing demand for cost-effective, shorter missions and enhanced safety.
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Increasing Demand from Military Sector Boosts the Growth of the Market
Based on end-users, the market is segmented into civil & commercial and military. The military segment dominated the market with the highest share due to the number of heavy-lift applications such as search and rescue, troop transportation, and cargo transportation. As per the Russian Helicopter data, the military transportation segment contributed 69% out of overall helicopter operations.
The commercial segment is estimated to show significant growth owing to rising commercial applications such as logging, power line construction, logistical operations, and others.
North America Air Crane Helicopter Market Size, 2019 (USD Billion)
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The market size in North America stood at USD 1.05 billion in 2019. The dominance of this region in the air crane helicopter market share is attributable to the well-flourished aviation industry and the massive spending in the defense sector. The presence of key players such as KAMAN CORPORATION, Lockheed Martin Corporation, and Textron Inc. further drives the North America market. Sikorsky’s S-64 Skycrane is one of the popular Air Crane helicopters in the region, widely utilized for heavy lifting applications.
Asia Pacific registers a remarkable growth due to the growing aviation industry in emerging economies such as India and China. The procurement of advanced air cranes due to rising bush fire incidences in Australia and New Zealand is fueling the growth of the market across Asia Pacific.
Europe is expected to showcase significant growth in this market during the forecast period. The growth is attributed to the expanding oil & gas industry, increasing fire instances, logistics operations, and others. Moreover, law enforcement agencies in the region such as the German Federal Police are rapidly upgrading their helicopter fleet, which will create new opportunities for market players in the region.
The Rest of the World is anticipated to register or witness significant growth during 2020-2027. This growth is attributed to the increased spending on the defense sector and the rising use of air cranes for commercial applications.
Development of Next Generation Air Cranes with High Load Carrying Capacity to Propel Market Growth
The introduction of advanced hook suspension systems and next-generation avionics are the latest trends in the air crane helicopter market. Key players are focusing on the development of air cranes with high load-carrying capacity, enhanced efficiency, and improved safety of pilots. Aircrane OEMs are focusing on business expansion through mergers& acquisitions, partnerships, contracts, and agreements.
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The market research report provides an in-depth technical analysis of the market and majorly focuses on key aspects such as leading market players, the pandemic effect on the market, and leading technological trends, research ideology of the product. Besides this, the report offers insights into the air crane helicopter market trends and highlights key industry developments & trends. In addition to the aforesaid factors, the report provides multiple factors that will contribute towards the growth of the market during the forecast period.
An Infographic Representation of Air Crane Helicopter Market
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Value (USD billion)
By External Load Capacity
By End User
Fortune Business Insights says that the global air crane helicopter market size was USD 2.81 billion in 2019 and is projected to reach USD 3.22 billion by 2027.
In 2019, the North America market value stood at USD 1.05 billion.
Growing at a CAGR of 3.86%, the market will exhibit steady growth in the forecast period (2020-2027).
The power line construction segment is the leading segment in this market.
Increasing use of air cranes for commercial and military applications is the key factor propelling the growth of the market.
KAMAN CORPORATION, Textron Inc., Airbus S.A.S., Erickson Incorporated, and Lockheed Martin Corporation are the major players in the global market.
North America dominated the market share in 2019.
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