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The global helicopter services market size was valued at USD 14.15 billion in 2022 and is projected to grow from USD 15.62 billion in 2023 to USD 23.80 billion by 2030, exhibiting a CAGR of 6.2% over the forecast period.
A helicopter service is a type of transportation service that utilizes helicopters as a means of transport. Helicopter services can be used for various purposes, including emergency medical services, search and rescue operations, transportation of passengers and goods, aerial photography and surveying, and other specialized tasks such as firefighting, military operations, and medical evacuations.
Private companies, government agencies, or military organizations can offer these services. In addition to transporting people and goods, some helicopter operators also provide sightseeing tours that offer passengers a unique and thrilling aerial view of the surrounding scenery. The increasing demand for Emergency Medical Services (EMS) is expected to drive the helicopter services market growth from 2023 to 2030.
Reduced Travel and Imposed Restrictions Hampered Market Growth Amid COVID-19 Pandemic
The market was significantly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic as global travel restrictions, lockdowns, and reduced economic activity resulted in reduced demand for transport services across various sectors. These included global offshore helicopter services, tourism, and emergency medical services.
For instance, in August 2020, Bristow Group Inc., one of the leading helicopter service providers, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection due to the impact of the pandemic on its business. The company cited reduced demand, travel restrictions, and reduced oil & gas activity as the key factors contributing to its financial difficulties.
The pandemic also impacted Emergency Medical Services (EMS), which rely on helicopters to transport patients. While the pandemic increased the demand for EMS services to transport COVID-19 patients, it also caused a decrease in demand for other types of EMS services due to reduction in accidents and injuries resulting from lockdowns and social distancing measures. For instance, the National EMS Pilots Association (NEMSPA) reported that EMS services in the U.S. experienced a decrease in flights in the first half of 2020 due to the pandemic. However, the organization also reported increased flights related to COVID-19 patients.
Despite the challenges, there were opportunities, such as air medical transport, which could increase the demand for rotorcraft services in the healthcare industry. Additionally, the growing demand for renewable energy could create new opportunities for helicopter services in the wind energy sector.
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On-demand Helicopter Services and Autonomous Helicopter Technology to Propel Industry Growth
On-demand helicopter services offer a level of convenience and flexibility that was previously unavailable in the industry. Companies, such as Blade, Voom, and Airbus' Vahana, offer on-demand helicopter services for Urban Air Mobility (UAM), airport transfers, and sightseeing tours accessed through a mobile app. This allows customers to book a helicopter ride within minutes, reducing travel time and traffic congestion in busy urban areas. For instance, Blade offers on-demand helicopter services between New York City and surrounding areas, with flights taking as little as five minutes, compared to several hours in ground transportation.
Additionally, companies such as Sikorsky, Aurora Flight Sciences, and Bell Helicopter, are developing autonomous helicopter technology that could replace manned helicopters in certain applications such as search and rescue, firefighting, and military operations. Autonomous helicopters offer advantages over manned helicopters, including increased safety, efficiency, and cost savings. They can perform missions that are too dangerous or challenging for manned helicopters such as flying in extreme weather conditions or over rough terrain. For instance, the U.S. Army is developing an autonomous helicopter system for resupply missions in combat zones, which can operate in hazardous environments without risking human life.
Furthermore, advancements in avionics systems, digital maintenance tracking, drone integration, contracts from the government and other various end-user industries, strategic partnerships, and collaborations are also key trends in the market.
Rising Demand for Emergency Medical Services (EMS) to Propel the Market Growth
The growing demand for Emergency Medical Services (EMS) is expected to drive the market growth. Helicopters are widely used for emergency medical transportation as they can quickly reach remote or hard-to-reach areas and transport patients to hospitals on time. The demand for EMS services is driven by the need to quickly transport critically ill or injured patients to hospitals, particularly in rural or remote areas where ground transportation is impractical. This has led to an increase in the number of EMS helicopter service providers and the use of newer, more advanced aircraft.
Additionally, the growth is due to the increasing demand for Helicopter Emergency Medical Services (HEMS). HEMS flights have increased by over 50% in the U.S. in the past decade. Helicopters are also used for organ transport, which is another rapidly growing segment of the market. For instance, in India, Apollo Hospitals has partnered with Airbus Helicopters to transport organs from one city to another for transplants using helicopters. Furthermore, the COVID-19 pandemic has also increased the demand for EMS and medical transportation services. With the increasing prevalence of chronic diseases and an aging population, the demand for EMS is expected to drive the market growth over the forecast period.
Growing Demand for Urban Air Mobility (UAM) is Projected to Boost Market Growth
Urban Air Mobility (UAM) refers to transporting people and goods in urban areas using aircraft. The rise of traffic congestion and pollution in urban areas increased the demand for efficient and sustainable transportation. Helicopters are the feasible solution, as they offer a reliable and quick point-to-point mode of transportation in urban environments. Additionally, increasing investments in UAM infrastructure, technological advancements in Electric Vertical Takeoff and Landing (eVTOL) aircraft, and growing demand for sustainable transportation solutions are also fostering the market growth.
Furthermore, several companies are investing in UAM technology, including aircraft manufacturers, technology companies, and transportation companies. For instance, Airbus is developing its CityAirbus eVTOL aircraft, designed to transport up to four passengers in urban areas. Uber has also launched its Uber Elevate initiative, which aims to provide air taxi services using eVTOL aircraft. They can take off and land vertically, eliminating the need for runways and reducing the space required for landing and takeoff. They can also travel at high speeds, reducing travel time and increasing efficiency. Due to such advantages, the market is projected to register appreciable growth during the forecast period.
High Operating Costs, Stringent Regulatory Framework, and Safety Concerns to Hamper the Market Growth
High operating costs associated with this industry, such as fuel, maintenance, and insurance, pose a significant challenge to industry growth. According to a report by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for helicopter pilots was USD 97,300 in 2020. Additionally, operators must comply with various safety and operational regulations as the regulatory framework varies from country to country. This makes it difficult for service providers to operate in different regions.
Furthermore, the safety record has been a concern for many years, with several accidents reported in the past. The safety concerns associated with helicopter services can impact the perception of the industry and reduce the demand for services. In 2020, according to a report by the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), the helicopter accident rate in the U.S. was 3.38 accidents per 100,000 flight hours, higher than that for fixed-wing aircraft. Such factors are expected to restrain the market growth during the study period.
Light Segment to Register Appreciable Growth Owing to Increasing Product Demand from Various End User Industries
By type, the market is categorized into light, medium, and heavy. The light segment dominated the market share in 2022. A lightweight helicopter is designed to be small, agile, and easy to operate, with a maximum takeoff weight of fewer than 6,000 pounds. The segment dominates the market globally due to the increasing demand for sightseeing, aerial photography, and other applications. The light segment is also estimated to be the fastest growing during the forecast period.
Medium helicopters are larger than light helicopters, with a maximum takeoff weight of between 6,000 and 18,000 pounds, and are typically used for applications such as law enforcement, firefighting, search and rescue, and others. The medium segment is expected to witness moderate growth during the forecast period due to the increased demand for versatile helicopters from various end-user industries.
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Air Ambulance Segment to Register Substantial Growth Owing to Rising Prevalence of Trauma Injuries and Increasing Healthcare Spending
By application, the market is categorized into offshore, air ambulance, business and corporate travel, disaster and humanitarian aid, transport, surveying and aerial imaging, and others. The air ambulance segment dominates the market and is estimated to be the fastest growing segment during the forecast period, owing to rising demand for helicopters in healthcare applications.
The disaster and humanitarian aid segment has the second-largest segment share. The segment has applications in disaster management, aerial firefighting activities, and others. The increasing number of natural disasters, accidents, and emergencies is anticipated to boost the growth of the market for Search and Rescue (SAR).
Civil Segment Dominates the Market Owing to Increased Demand for Emergency Services and Air Transportation
The market by end user is segmented into civil, commercial, and military. The civil segment dominated the market in the base year due to the rising demand for helicopters in emergency services and the increased demand for air transportation. As populations grow and urban areas expand, the demand for efficient and fast transportation increases.
The military segment is predicted to witness moderate growth during the forecast period. The segment growth is due to increasing demand for helicopter applications for troop transport and aerial surveillance.
North America Helicopter Services Market Size, 2022 (USD Billion)
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In terms of geography, the market is divided into North America, Europe, Asia Pacific, South America, and the Middle East & Africa.
North America dominated the market in 2022 and was valued at USD 5.36 billion in 2022. The regional growth is due to increasing demand for aerial firefighting services. This is attributed to the fact that helicopters are used for various roles in aerial firefighting. For instance, in 2020, Columbia Helicopters announced that it had developed a new water bucket system that can drop up to 1,000 gallons of water at once. This system allows for more efficient and effective firefighting efforts, particularly in areas with limited water sources.
Europe held the second-largest helicopter services market share in the base year. The high market growth is attributed to the growing demand for Search and Rescue (SAR) operations. The offshore wind industry's expansion, which requires helicopter transportation services for personnel and equipment, also boosts the market growth. Furthermore, the adoption of electric and hybrid propulsion helicopters due to environmental concerns and the need for energy-efficient transport provides new growth opportunities.
Asia Pacific is the fastest-growing region in the global market. This growth is attributed to the growing applications of helicopters in military and defense. Furthermore, the growing demand for aerial surveying and mapping services for infrastructure development projects in emerging markets in Asia Pacific presents a significant growth opportunity for the market.
The South America market is anticipated to witness significant growth during the forecast period due to increasing VIP transportation and corporate travel, resource extraction, and exploration activities. In 2020, Helibras, the Brazilian subsidiary of Airbus Helicopters, introduced the H145M, a versatile helicopter that can be customized for VIP transport, medical evacuations, or military missions. This new helicopter has the latest safety features, advanced avionics, and a quiet, comfortable cabin, making it an attractive option for VIP clients.
The market in the Middle East & Africa will witness moderate growth in the near future. The increasing offshore oil & gas operations are expected to boost market growth during the forecast period. Additionally, the Middle East gained popularity as a tourist destination, attracting huge investments in the tourism sector from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates, which offer new growth opportunities for market players.
Leading Players Focus on Sustainable Operations, Expansion into Emerging Markets, Technological Innovation, and Diversification of Services
The global market’s competitive landscape is relatively fragmented with key players such as Bristow Group Inc., Air Methods Corporation, Petroleum Helicopters International Inc., CHC Helicopter Group, Babcock International Group plc, and others. Major players focus on technological innovation, sustainable operations, and expansion into emerging markets. For instance, in 2020, CHC Helicopter announced that it partnered with GE Aviation to develop a new digital analytics system to improve helicopter maintenance and reduce downtime. This technology allows operators to monitor the health of their engines in real-time and predict maintenance needs before they become critical.
An Infographic Representation of Helicopter Services Market
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The research report provides a detailed market analysis. It comprises all major aspects such as R&D capabilities and optimization of the operating services. Moreover, the report offers insights into market analysis, trends, and primarily highlights key industry developments. In addition to the above-mentioned factors, it mainly focuses on several factors that have contributed to the global market growth in recent years.
CAGR of 6.2% from 2023 to 2030
Value (USD Billion)
By Type, Application, End User, and Geography
By End User
As per a study by Fortune Business Insights, the market size was USD 14.15 billion in 2022.
The market is likely to grow at a CAGR of 6.2% over the forecast period (2023-2030).
The light segment is expected to lead the market due to rising demand for lightweight helicopters globally.
The market size in North America stood at USD 5.36 billion in 2022.
The rising demand for Emergency Medical Services (EMS) and the growing demand for Urban Air Mobility (UAM) are expected to drive the market.
Some of the top players in the market are Bristow Group Inc., Air Methods Corporation, Petroleum Helicopters International Inc., CHC Helicopter Group, and Babcock International Group plc.
The U.S. dominated the market in 2022.
High operating costs, stringent regulatory framework, and safety concerns are expected to hamper the market growth.
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