Executives at two of the world’s largest helicopter builders insist that their industry is continuing to flourish, even in the face of a severe economic downturn.
Speaking at Heli-Expo on Feb. 23, AgustaWestland CEO Giuseppe Orsi said the civil rotorcraft market is likely to suffer less from the economic downturn than the business jet market. He based that prediction on his company’s $13 billion order backlog, but added that the industry as a whole is “in good shape.”
Eurocopter CEO Lutz Bertling agreed with Orsi, pointing out that strong sales of military helicopters, such as the U.S. Army UH-72A, based on Eurocopter’s EC 145, will keep order backlogs high. Bertling stated that Eurocopter has an $18 billion order book for 1,500 helicopters.
Orsi expressed confidence that the Obama Administration will give the go-ahead to the VH-71 presidential helicopter, even though costs for it have nearly doubled to $11 billion. The VH-71 is a shared program between AgustaWestland and Lockheed Martin.