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The global helicopter market size was valued at USD 56.87 billion in 2022 and is projected to grow from USD 58.87 billion in 2023 to USD 76.16 billion by 2030, exhibiting a CAGR of 3.7% during the forecast period.
A helicopter is a type of vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft that uses one or more horizontal rotors to generate lift and propulsion, allowing it to take off, hover, and fly in any direction, including forwards, backward, and sideways. They are of different types such as civil, commercial, and military.
Helicopters have a wide range of applications, including air ambulance services, search and rescue operations, military missions, oil & gas operations, and business travel. They are also used for aerial surveys, aerial photography, and cargo transportation. Their versatility makes them ideal for operations in difficult-to-reach areas such as remote locations and disaster zones.
The working of a helicopter is the main rotor that provides lift to the aircraft while the tail rotor counteracts the torque produced by the main rotor, allowing it to maintain stability and control. The main rotor's blades are shaped like airfoils and are positioned to generate lift when they spin. The increasing demand from the defense and commercial segment is expected to drive the growth of the global market size from 2023 to 2030.
COVID-19 had a Significant Impact Due to Reduced Demand, Production, and Financial Performance
Since the COVID-19 outbreak in December 2019, the disease had spread to almost 100 countries around the globe, with the World Health Organization (WHO) declaring it a pandemic. The COVID-19 pandemic hampered market growth, affecting production, delivery, and financial performance. Lockdowns and travel restrictions implemented worldwide resulted in a sharp decline in demand, leading to reduced production rates and delivery times. The pandemic also caused supply chain disruptions, leading to temporary shutdowns of manufacturing facilities, which resulted in a slowdown in production.
The reduction in demand and production led to financial losses for manufacturers and many companies had to seek financial assistance from governments or face bankruptcy. The decline in demand and reduced production had an impact on investments in the manufacturing industry, as investors became cautious in the face of the economic uncertainty caused by the pandemic.
The pandemic also significantly impacted maintenance and support services. With the decrease in demand, maintenance and support services were reduced leading to a decline in revenue for these businesses.
Russia-Ukraine War Hampered the Market due to Supply Chain Disruptions, Decreased Production, and Imposed Sanctions
The Russia-Ukraine war has significantly impacted many industries, including the aviation industry. One of the key areas affected by the conflict is the supply chain of parts and components. The majority of helicopter manufacturers of both Russia and Ukraine source parts from suppliers in other countries. The ongoing conflict disrupted the supply chain, leading to delayed production and maintenance. For instance, Motor Sich, a Ukrainian rotorcraft manufacturer, announced that the company was severely impacted by the war. Its production fell by almost 40%, and exports dropped significantly due to loss of the Russian market and disruption of supply chains.
The conflict has also led to decreased international cooperation in this market. Prior to the conflict, Russia and Ukraine had partnerships with several foreign manufacturers such as Airbus S.A.S., Leonardo S.p.A., and others. The conflict has negatively affected these partnerships, with some manufacturers canceling joint ventures and cutting ties with Russian and Ukrainian companies. For instance, Leonardo SpA announced that it had paused all production joint ventures in Russia.
Similarly, Textron Inc. announced that it closed its manufacturing facilities in Russia and is no longer doing business within the country. This resulted in a loss of potential customers and revenue for the rotorcraft market in both countries.
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Electric and Hybrid Propulsion Systems, Big Data, and Artificial Intelligence are Prominent Trends
Technological advancements and product developments are key trends gaining popularity in the market. Major players in this market are focusing on developing electric and hybrid propulsion systems, integrating artificial intelligence, and shifting to unmanned systems, which led to the production of more efficient and reliable helicopters. For instance, in December 2021, Avio Aero, a GE Aerospace business that specializes in the design, manufacturing, and maintenance of civil and military aeronautics subsystems and systems, showcased VRT 500 single-engine light rotorcraft. It consists of an innovative hybrid propulsion system that automatically activates an electric engine to safely assist the pilot during landing maneuvers in case of thermal engine failure. These advancements improved safety, efficiency, performance, and new capabilities in unmanned systems and advanced sensors.
Additionally, Big Data and analytics are becoming increasingly important in the market. Operators use data to optimize maintenance schedules, improve safety, and reduce costs. Advanced analytics can help identify trends and patterns that might otherwise go unnoticed, allowing operators to take proactive measures to prevent problems. Furthermore, government contracts and projects to develop and modernize rotorcrafts, strategic partnerships, and collaborations are also vital market trends.
Growing Demand for Air Ambulance Services is Expected to Propel the Market Progress
Air ambulance refers to an aircraft that transports sick or injured people to the hospital in an emergency. The need for rapid transportation of critical patients to hospitals has driven the growth of the air ambulance service, with helicopters providing the fastest means of transport. Air ambulance services are becoming more prevalent globally due to medical technology advancements, and they have gained popularity as they provide quick and efficient transportation for critically ill patients. Their ability to reach remote and inaccessible areas makes them an ideal option for transporting patients to medical facilities with speed and efficiency.
Additionally, the demand for air ambulance services is fueled by factors such as the growing elderly population, the rise in chronic diseases, and the requirement for prompt medical attention during emergencies. This growing demand is expected to boost the growth of the market as they are commonly utilized for these services due to their swiftness and versatility.
Rising Demand from Military and Defense is Expected to Drive the Market Growth
The rising demand for helicopters for military and defense applications, the increasing complexity of modern warfare, and the importance of air mobility are expected to propel the market. The military and defense sectors are among the largest users. From transport and logistics to combat and reconnaissance, rotary-wing aircraft have become essential for military operations in various contexts.
Furthermore, they are used for various missions, including troop transport, search and rescue, cargo transport, and medical evacuation. They are also used for combat missions, providing close air support and attack operations. Their versatility makes them an indispensable asset for militaries worldwide. Owing to such advantages, the market is projected to boost the helicopter market growth during the forecast period.
Delivery Backlogs, High Operational, and Maintenance Costs Hamper the Market Growth
The market faces significant challenges related to delivery backlogs and high operational and maintenance costs. The backlog of orders has increased due to various factors such as increased demand after the COVID-19 impact, supply chain disruptions, and stringent regulations. This has led to a long waiting period for customers who want to purchase or lease a rotorcraft.
Additionally, high operational and maintenance costs also hamper the market. Rotorcrafts are complex machines requiring a significant amount of upkeep to ensure they operate safely and efficiently. The maintenance cost can be exceptionally high for older models, as replacement parts become more difficult to source and expensive.
Furthermore, the cost of fuel and insurance can add up quickly, making it more expensive to operate a rotorcraft than other modes of transportation. Such factors are expected to restrain the market growth during the forecast period.
Civil & Commercial Segment is Expected to Dominate Owing to increased Demand for Civil Helicopters
The market is segmented into civil & commercial and military, by type. The civil & commercial segment dominates the market in the base year due to the rising demand for emergency services and increased demand for air transportation. As the population grows 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 growth in the segment is owing to the replacement and modernization of an aging fleet and increasing use in disaster relief and humanitarian missions.
Light Segment to Lead Owing to the Applications of Civil & Commercial Helicopters in End-user Industries
By weight, the market is segmented into light, medium, and heavy. The light segment dominated the market in 2022. A lightweight rotorcraft is designed to be small, agile, and easy to operate, with a maximum takeoff weight of fewer than 6,000 pounds. This segment dominates the market globally due to the increasing demand for civil and commercial helicopters in sightseeing, aerial photography, and transportation of small groups and cargo.
Medium ones are larger than lighter ones, 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. Medium segment is expected to witness moderate growth during the forecast period due to increased demand for versatile rotary-wing aircraft from various end-user industries.
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Owing to Increasing Trauma Injuries and Healthcare Spending, the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Segment to Dominate
By application, the market is categorized into Emergency Medical Service (EMS), corporate service, search and rescue operation, oil & gas, defense, homeland security, and others. The Emergency Medical Service (EMS) segment is projected to dominate the market during the forecast period owing to rising demand in healthcare applications.
The search and rescue operation segment has the second largest share in the application segment. The segment has applications in disaster management, aerial firefighting activities, and others. The increasing prevalence of wildfires is anticipated to boost the market for the search and rescue operation segment.
Pre-Owned Segment to Dominate Owing to Cost Effectiveness and Increasing Backlogs by OEMs
By point of sale, the market is divided into new and pre-owned. The pre-owned segment grew at a higher growth rate during the base year due to the cost-effectiveness of pre-owned and increased backlog deliveries by OEMs.
The new segment will witness significant growth during the forecast period owing to the increasing demand for air travel as rotary-wing aircraft provides an efficient and flexible mode of transportation, rising disposable income, and increasing business and leisure travel, particularly for short-to-medium distance journeys.
North America Helicopter 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 helicopter market share in 2022 and was valued at USD 32.03 billion in 2022. This region's growth is due to the modernization and expansion of the military fleet in developed countries. In June 2022, Lockheed Martin Corp was awarded a five-year contract worth USD 2.3 billion to manufacture a minimum of 120 H-60M Black Hawks as the U.S. military seeks a successor to its existing fleet. The five-year contract includes an option for 135 additional aircraft, valued at USD 4.4 billion, available to the Army, U.S. agencies, and allies.
The market in Europe held the second-largest share in the base year. This region's high market growth is attributed to the growing demand for offshore wind farms, with helicopters being used for the transportation and maintenance of wind turbines. The use of augmented and virtual reality is a major trend in the Europe market, with companies using these technologies for training and maintenance purposes.
Asia Pacific is the fastest-growing region in the market. This growth is attributed to growing defense spending by emerging countries and increasing demand for lightweight helicopters. Furthermore, the growing demand in emerging markets in the Asia Pacific presents a significant growth opportunity for the market.
South America is anticipated to witness significant growth in the market during the forecast period due to tourism, geographic and climatic conditions, and resource extraction & exploration activities. According to Leonardo S.p.A., with over 900 VIP rotary-wing aircraft operating around the world, almost a quarter of them are situated in South America. Additionally, during the LABACE 2022 regional exhibition, the company reported that it secured new orders for VIP rotorcrafts from Brazil.
The market in the Middle East & Africa will witness a moderate growth in the near future. The rise in demand for offshore oil and gas exploration and the expansion of military forces in the Middle East & Africa will boost the market growth of the market during the forecast period.
Developing Advanced Avionics, New Materials, and Improved Engines to Improve Safety and Performance is a Key Focus of Leading Players
The global market is highly consolidated with a few key players, such as Airbus S.A.S, Textron Inc., Leonardo S.p.A., Lockheed Martin Corporation, the Boeing Company, and others. These players comprise most of the market share and are focusing on investing in research & development of advanced avionics, lightweight materials, and improved engines to produce more efficient and reliable helicopters. For instance, in December 2022, Airbus SAS launched DisruptiveLab to improve rotorcraft performance. DisruptiveLab is a flying laboratory designed to test technologies that enhance aircraft performance and reduce CO2 emissions.
An Infographic Representation of Helicopter Market
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The 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 research report offers insights into market trends and primarily highlights key industry developments along with latest market forecast. In addition to the above-mentioned factors, the report mainly focuses on several factors that have contributed to the market growth in recent years.
CAGR of 3.7% from 2023 to 2030
Value (USD Billion)
By Type, Weight, Application, Point of Sale, and Geography
By Point of Sale
As per the Fortune Business Insights study, the market size was USD 56.87 billion in 2022.
The market is likely to grow at a CAGR of 3.7% over the forecast period (2023-2030).
The civil & commercial segment is expected to lead the market due to rising demand for emergency services globally.
The market size in North America stood at USD 32.03 billion in 2022.
Growing demand for air ambulance services and rising demand in military and defense applications are expected to drive the market.
Some of the top players in the market are Airbus S.A.S, Textron Inc., Leonardo S.p.A., Lockheed Martin Corporation, and the Boeing Company.
The U.S. dominated the market in the market in 2022.
Delivery backlogs and high operational and maintenance costs hamper the market.
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