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Helicopter services play an important role in industrial applications such as air medical services, offshore oil & gas, and travel & tourism. In addition to this, the growing demand for emergency air medical and firefighting services is perceived as a positive trend that is expected to boost the demand for helicopters worldwide. For instance, according to Westpac, the 2019 bushfire in the Australian forests cost the country a staggering USD 5 billion in direct economic loss and further reduced the economic growth by 0.2 to 0.5%. However, one thing that stood out was the way Erickson Incorporated, the firefighting company that owns the largest S-64 Aircrane fleet, played a major role in controlling the fires by deploying its firefighting helicopter services.
According to Fortune Business Insights, the global market size for helicopter services is expected to reach USD 39.89 billion by 2027. Factors such as the increasing focus on implementing real-time data and the growing demand for lightweight aircraft will favor the growth of the market.
Fortune Business Insights lists the top 10 helicopter services companies operating in the global market. They are as follows:
The U.S.-based private helicopter operator, Air Methods Corporation, started its air service operations in 1980. The company has its corporate headquarter in the Denver Technological Center, Colorado, and operates across 48 states and Haiti, with air medical service being its core business. The company's air medical division provides emergency air medical services to around 70,000 to 100,000 patients annually. In April 2020, the company announced its partnership with North American Partners in Anesthesia (NAPA). The partnership aimed to provide 34 portable and critical-care ventilators to the largest healthcare system in New York, an epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S.
Alpine Helicopters has been in the industry since 1961 and primarily offers heli-skiing, tourism, back-country rescue, and wildfire management types of commercial services for helicopters. The company’s stable consists of 37 light, intermediate, and medium Bell Helicopters that offer a range of commercial and tourism services across Canada. Additionally, Alpine Helicopters has six Parks Canada-certified Mountain Rescue Pilots on the board. In January 2019, Canmore and Golden Rescue Helicopters of Alpine Helicopters Inc. responded to an overall 274 rescue service calls, among which over 140 required the use of a longline rescue system.
Bristow Helicopters Limited, established in June 1955, is a global leader that offers aviation service solutions such as search and rescue (SAR), offshore oil and gas transportation, and air support to government and civilians. Based in Aberdeen Airport, Scotland, the company is currently a part of Bristow Group, having its corporate headquarters in Houston, Texas, U.S. In March 2020, Bristow Helicopters Limited successfully announced the deportation of the suspected COVID-19 offshore workers from an offshore oil and gas farm located in the North Sea with three search and rescue helicopters.
Based in Perkasie, Pennsylvania, U.S., Carson Helicopters Inc. was established in 1963. Since its inception, the company has established its name as a leading helicopter’s upgraded component manufacturer and after-service market provider. One of the established companies in the global market, Carson holds 40 certificates for modification and improvement of rotary-wing aircraft, including 33 certificates for the Sikorsky S61 Helicopter.
Erickson Incorporated, a leading U.S.-based original equipment manufacturer and aviation service provider, has its headquarters in Portland, Oregon. Founded in 1971, the company operates globally and includes a fleet of around 69 fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraft. Till 2014, the company was known as Erickson Air-Crane Incorporated. In June 2020, Erickson announced that it had received an IDIQ (indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity) contract supporting the NAWC-AD (Naval Air Warfare Center, Aircraft Division), thereby adding another feather to its cap.
Incorporated in 1970, Gulf Helicopters is one of the pioneers in providing commercial aviation service solutions globally. The company has its stable several commercial helicopters such as AW 189, AW139, S92, MD902, BELL 412 SP/EP, BELL 206 L3, and BELL 212 and further has its presence across European, African, the Middle East, and South Asian regions. In February 2019, the company selected SKYTRAC real-time connectivity to enable the efficient working of its Leonardo AW189 and AW139 flight data monitoring (FDM) and health and usage monitoring systems (HUMS) programs.
With over 30 years of experience in the global market, the U.K.-based Heli Air Limited boasts of a broader range of private and brokerage helicopters with a global dealership network. In February 2018, the company introduced at the Heli-Expo held in Las Vegas the R66 Turbine helicopter equipped with a Garmin 1060 TXi installation and R44 Raven II helicopter with a Garmin 700L TXi installation.
One of the leading global market players, PHI Inc., provides seamless safe and reliable transportation services for industrial applications such as onshore mining, oil & gas, technical services, air medical, and international. Established in 1949, the American commercial helicopter services provider has its headquarters in Lafayette, Louisiana. The company has a fleet size of about 259 aircraft operating on a regional and global level.
In November 2018, the company signed a contract with Ramco Systems for a company-wide enterprise software upgrade. As per the contract, PHI Inc. upgraded its fleet with the latest version of Ramco Aviation M&E MRO Suite 5.8 to manage its multi-entity maintenance and flight operations.
Paramount Business Jets is the leading private jet service company with an A+ BB rating. With its 15+ years of business presence, the Leesburg, Virginia-based company undertakes more than 1000 charters annually. In November 2019, Paramount Business Jets announced the launch of the world's first-ever open-source carbon offset system to enhance the private aviation industry.
The only United Arab Emirates unmanned helicopter services operator, Abu Dhabi Aviation, is positioned at the Abu Dhabi International Airport. The largest commercial aircraft operator has over 61 helicopters that comprise AgustaWestland AW139, AW109, Bell 412, and Bell 212 models. The company, to its credit, has experience of 1,000,000 flight hours and provides its services for applications such as emergency medical services, offshore oil industry, seismic survey, and firefighting support.
Rescuers amid COVID-19: Helicopter Services Reach a New High
In March 2020, France announced the deployment of drones and helicopters to ensure that the people are confined to their home spaces to contain the spread of disease. A French-navy helicopter-carrier reached Toulon to evacuate coronavirus patients from Corsica, a Mediterranean island, to hospitals located at Marseille. Similarly, private services for helicopters have witnessed a massive surge across the globe as several countries have restricted air travel. The growing demand for safe and customized travel has propelled the demand for private aircraft carriers that have contributed to the rising sales revenues of several companies.
The future of this market is undoubtedly bright as the pandemic has brought forth the importance of air ambulance services. Emerging economies such as India have taken proactive steps to enhance air carrier services. Regulatory frameworks are being designed, and the companies are adopting advanced technologies such as real-time data and autonomous technologies. Moreover, the increasing adoption of advanced avionics software with artificial intelligence is expected to propel the demand of the global industry in the near future.