Used Helicopter Sales Slump—Again

 - April 13, 2021, 11:30 AM

The bounce in used helicopter sales in the second half of 2020 seems to have been triggered more by bargain prices than by any real market recovery. So suggests first-quarter 2021 data from Canadian consultancy Aero Asset, which reported this week that retail sales of preowned twin-engine helicopters dropped to pre-pandemic levels. “Comparing the first quarter of 2021 with [the same quarter in] 2020, the on-market supply of twin-engine helicopters for sale decreased to pre-pandemic levels,” said Valerie Pereira, Aero Asset v-p of market research. “We saw a parallel decline in both transactions and supply.” 

Overall, the market seems to have returned to the miasma of the fourth quarter in 2019. While the deal pipeline ticked up another 10 percent in the most recent quarter, returning to fourth-quarter 2019 levels, sales volumes for both light and heavy twins actually contracted from fourth-quarter 2020 levels, while sales volume for medium twins fell by half.

The Airbus H145 was the top performer in the category, posting a 50 percent increase in sales, a 42 percent drop in supply in first-quarter 2021 compared with fourth-quarter 2020, and a four-month reduction in the absorption rate from the year-ago period, down to seven months in the most recent quarter. However, most of the market lagged, with five of the 13 preowned twin models tracked by Aero Asset posting no trades at all. Those included the Bell 412, Sikorsky S-92A and S-76D, Airbus EC155/H155, and Leonardo AW169.

Conversely, sales of new helicopters are projected to hold relatively steady over the next 15 years, according to a study released Tuesday by Forecast International. That firm estimates that 25,000 civil and military rotorcraft, valued at $300 billion, will be produced over the period, with Airbus Helicopters continuing to lead the market in numbers of units manufactured.