Copter market set to take flight
Updated: 2011-12-07 07:52
By Wang Wen (China Daily)
BEIJING - Local governments, which use helicopters for emergency and security services, have become the main customers of the Eurocopter Group in China, a senior company executive said.
"Some major cities, like Shanghai and Guangzhou, use helicopters and many other cities are following them," said Bruno Boulnois, CEO of Eurocopter China.
He said helicopters can be used for many government purposes, including security, fire-fighting and emergency medicine.
Data from Eurocopter show that 25 percent of its fleet in China is flying in the public-service sector. These helicopters are used by provincial and special administrative regional authorities.
France-based Eurocopter, a subsidiary of European Aeronautic Defense and Space Co (EADS), sold 160 helicopters in China in the past four years and has a market share of about 40 percent.
Eurocopter has offices in seven cities around China, including Wuhan, Chengdu and Harbin.
The helicopter business has already become one of the main businesses of EADS in China, said Dominique Laporte, president of EADS China.
Business insiders and experts are optimistic about China's civilian helicopter market, as the airspace management system is expected to be reformed during the 12th Five-Year Plan period (2011-2015).
Eurocopter said its sales so far this year have doubled compared with last year.
Boulnois said China's market will boom in the next 10 years at least because the country now has so few helicopters.
Wang Bin, president of AVIC Helicopter Co, said there were only 206 registered helicopters by the end of 2010, according to the aviation newspaper CAAC Journal.
"We believe the number will grow to 1,000 in the next 10 years," Boulnois said. "The most-needed versions will be mid-sized helicopters" with five to 10 seats.
Increasing demand will mainly come from companies and individuals whose demand is constrained by the current airspace management system, said Zhao Qianming, analyst with Sinolink Securities Co Ltd.
Companies can use helicopters in many ways to save money and energy, such as monitoring electricity transmission systems and offshore oil facilities, Boulnois said.
Helicopters are the most cost-efficient means of transport for offshore oil facilities.
CITIC Offshore Helicopter Co Ltd, a subsidiary of CITIC Group that focuses on the use of general aviation for offshore oil facilities, announced on Nov 22 that seven orders valued at about 1.235 billion yuan ($194 million) had been placed.
Beijing Capital Helicopter Co Ltd, established by HNA Group in June to cooperate with the Beijing government in using helicopters for public-service missions, has assigned one of its three helicopters to missions in Qinghai province for mineral exploration.
"The (profit from) one helicopter working in Qinghai can cover the company's main costs," said Xu Lidong, president of Beijing Capital Helicopter.
(China Daily 12/07/2011 page15)