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Summer 2022

Pre-Owned corporate helicopters market update from Rotortrade

Helicopters | Pre-Owned Market

Aurélien Blanc, Rotortrade EVP Sales & Board Member answers EWM questions on the state of the pre-owned market helicopter market in 2022.

Can you give us a quick overview of Rotortrade?

Rotortrade has turned 10 years old this year. Within this period we have reached several milestones in our efforts to positively change the helicopter pre-owned market. We position ourselves as an inventory dealer and distributor selling all major makes and models, providing quality helicopters we control exclusively or own. We have also been the sole international distributor of Leonardo’s pre-owned helicopters for most of the decade and recently renewed for 3 more years. We have been the first to bring Certified Pre-Owned helicopters and engines to the market working closely notably with Leonardo and  Pratt & Whitney Canada.  Today Rotortrade has 10 branches around the world including offices in Miami, Kuala Lumpur, London, Los Angeles, Marseille, Melbourne, Mexico City, Paris, Riyadh, Sarajevo, Shanghai, and Singapore. We aim to be close to our customers and to accompany every deal locally. We act as principal towards each of our clients, committing our own capital, assuming risk liabilities, and carrying the cost of the asset until resell. This is the only way to deliver on our commitment to provide helicopters you can trust.  Recently we have celebrated the acquisition of a majority share from PIF the Saudi Public Investment Fund in which we have found a great partner, to help the Kingdom and its sole commercial operator The Helicopter Company reach its vision 2030 and enable Rotortrade to grow to its full potential.

What are the latest trends in the pre-owned market of corporate and private helicopters?

From the second half of 2021 until today, the supply of second-hand helicopters has been decreasing considerably as well. This phenomenon is the result of the long delivery times that major OEMs now have for brand-new helicopters combined with above-average Y-on-Y list price increases. It goes without saying that pre-owned solutions have gained popularity thanks to the dynamic market and the growing trend for private transportation. Rotortrade is very active in the corporate/VIP segment notably thanks to its partnership with Leonardo, the leader in this segment.

What we see is also very quick and unprecedented public acceptance of new modes of transport such as Urban Air Mobility initiatives (e-VTOLS… etc) which will likely benefit turbine helicopters until the technology, regulatory environment, infrastructure, and general ecosystem matures.

The corporate/VIP market is mainly divided into 3 to 4 segments, the single-engine 2 to 3 Tons segment with many models to choose from namely the Airbus 350/H125/H130 family, the Bell 407 and Agusta 119, the light twin segment 3 to 5 Tons with the Agusta family dominating the space notably with the AW109E/S/SP followed by the Bell 429 and the Airbus 135/145, and last but not least the medium twin segment largely dominated by the AW139 and renewed interest in the S76C++/D models and the more limited supply H155. One could add the heavy niche segment which has seen no less than 6 H225 VVIP pre-owned sales in the past 12 months alone!

Which regions of the world do you see driving the demand in the corporate and private helicopter segment?

The VIP pre-owned helicopter market has seen a mostly homogeneous rise across almost all nations. The US remains the most active country in this segment of the pre-owned market. Brazil, in second place, accounts for the majority of transactions in Latin America and growing fast. Canada sales have increased considerably overtaking Australia and New Zealand which have suffered longer from the Covid crisis. In Asia, we noticed a surge in pre-owned transactions in Japan while the rest of Asia is only slowly coming out of the crisis but can be expected to soar as well. The main corporate markets in Europe; the UK, France, Switzerland, and Italy; have also grown while Russia which was developing fast in this segment has all but frozen while also affecting growth in eastern Europe.

Rotortrade offers a Certified Pre-Owned program on selected helicopters and turbines. Can you give us more details on this program and how important it is for the corporate and private helicopter segment?

The Certified Pre-Owned Program features nose-to-tail warranty including coverage on the airframe from Leonardo and on the engines by Pratt & Whitney Canada. We wanted to create higher value on the mature yet inefficient pre-owned helicopter market. Our goal was to bring a quality product that would give peace of mind to the end user and particularly to private/VIP buyers. Some OEMs showed great interest to stand by their product and provide standard warranty terms based on a defined set of inspections and standards. Launched by Rotortrade, we are very proud of our successful partnership and collaboration with Leonardo and PWC. These are the partnerships that truly leverage the competencies and expertise of various key industry players for the benefit of operators in the too often neglected pre-owned market.