ROTORCRAFT ASIA CONFERENCE 2019 — RECAP
2019 marked the first time Asian Sky Media joined as the Official Conference Partner to Rotorcraft Asia. The one-day conference brought the likes of OEMs, operators, lessors and analysts all picking apart the complex rotary market of the Asia Pacific.
One of the opening points of the Conference, made by Asian Sky Group’s Chairman, Max Buirski, was the growth in the Asia-Pacific (turbine) civil helicopter market and, thus, the potential it has. Enduring the downturn in the oil and gas market, shakeups in the leasing market and an oversupply of medium and heavy-size helicopters, the Asia-Pacific fleet still managed to grow in 2018 — 4.6% to be exact.
The Conference started out with a panel discussion on ‘Why Asia is Not One Region’, exploring the distinctions of operating helicopters in Asia – from Japan to the Philippines. And, as noted by Ascend by Cirium’s Aviation Analyst, Dennis Lau, this varied region is set to overtake Europe’s helicopter market (in terms of fleet size) sometime in the 2020s. However, the complexities are extreme. LCI Aviation’s Executive Vice President, Nigel Leishman pointed out a few of the tough limitations to work around, including Thailand’s importation restriction on helicopters older than five years.
Not unexpected from the day’s agenda was the interest in China’s helicopter market, which overtook Japan in 2018 to become the second largest regional market behind Australia. A dedicated discussion “What’s Really Going on in China?” delved into all those new orders, the growing EMS market and what the market has to come. Macquarie Rotorcraft Leasing’s Vice President, Sales & Relationship Management – Asia/Australia & Pacific, Philip Stransky was, perhaps, the most pragmatic on China advising: “When you see the number of new deliveries going into China everyone gets very excited, but it’s much more complex to go from the excitement to generating revenue out of those new deliveries.”
One of the more intriguing topics of the day brought the conference towards the future – which, as the audience heard from Bell and Airbus, is closer than we think. Taking the day’s spotlight, and attracting the largest crowd, was the ‘Beating the Traffic — eVTOL, UAS, Uber’ panel. David Sale; Managing Director, Asia Pacific for Bell started off the session explaining “there are three factors that are driving on-demand mobility: urbanization, shared economy and instant gratification.” And these points were touched on throughout the discussion.
The final session of the day brought together four of the region’s major helicopters operators from the Philippines, Thailand and Malaysia: INAEC Aviation Corporation, PhilJets Group, SFS Aviation and MHS Aviation. The panelists discussed the challenges of operating in Asia, immediately turning their attention to the need for more maintenance support from OEMs, noting it “should be better”. Each also shared the difficulties they face operating in their home countries and discussed the shared growth of the Southeast Asian helicopter market, which has benefited all of the operators.