There’s a lot to be positive about as Helitech International 2017 edges closer. While it would be flippant to dismiss the oil and gas crisis that clearly still effects the rotorcraft industry, there are some encouraging themes running throughout the industry.
At last year’s Helitech International 2016 at the RAI Amsterdam, manufacturers and operators alike were counteracting the negativity surrounding the phrase ‘oil and gas crisis’ with the projection of a ‘cautious optimism’.
This really was evident as deals, signings and new products were present at Europe’s largest civil helicopter show and more of the same is expected when we all hit the halls of the Excel in London from 3-5 October.
As I speak with industry spokespeople, I still hear the rumblings of a brand of optimism, although it is one used cautiously not to lull industry into a false security – it is used in the sense that things have not got any worse and are looking up.
Indeed, it has not been an understated or even slow recovery for the first part of this year with flight returns, concept aircraft and new platforms dominating headlines across the commercial helicopter market.
The big story of recovery lies with two platforms that have been dogged by crashes. The H225 received a boost recently when the UK’s CAA and Norwegian aviation authority agreed to lift the no-flying ban on the H225 and AS332 L2 aircraft following the fatal crash in April of last year.
Furthermore, the Bell 525 Relentless has returned to flight, a year on from the company’s loss of one of its flight test vehicles which crashed in a fatal accident involving two pilots.
The flight, which took place on 7 July, was further to the FAA granting an experimental certificate renewal. The rotorcraft flew for a couple of hours and, according to Bell, it completed the planned testing without any issues.
Adding to this, the emergence of Erickson and CHC from bankruptcy has been indicative that the tide of change within the industry is rising towards steady growth.
This market positivity has been further helped by companies like Kaman resuming delivers of the K-Max after the production of the model stopped for more than a decade.
There are so many other stories among the community that indicate positive steps for the next 12 months and Helitech International 2017 will be an encouraging forum through its seminars and workshops to get industry talking and moving into 2018 optimistically.
For more industry news see the Aug-Sep issue of Rotorhub magazine which will be available on the Shephard Media stand [H21] at Helitech International. Shephard Media is producing the Helitech International Show Daily available throughout the show – if you have news please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
Helen Haxell is editor of Rotorhub and Defence Helicopter magazines. She took over the rotorcraft portfolio in early 2017.