HELICOPTERS The further offshore the rigs, the stronger the prospects

Oct 01, 2007 | 03:08 PM |

A shortage of raw materials is a hot issue in the metals industry today, a problem that carries over into those markets that depend on a steady supply to get their products built. The helicopter market is a prime example.

The helicopter industry is booming, with order books on the verge of overflowing as more offshore drilling platforms are erected. Yet the industry can't keep pace with demand, with wait times for parts stretching as far out as two years—and the gap between placing an order and the delivery of a helicopter isn't expected to narrow in the near term.

At present, builders average 18 to 24 months to make a helicopter, and the process is so heavily reliant on the timely delivery of components that if a customer needs a helicopter sooner they'll have to pay a hefty premium to get it.

The world's largest helicopter fleet operator servicing offshore oil rigs, CHC Helicopter Corp., Vancouver, British Columbia, is expecting significant growth in its business and plans to acquire between 50 and 70 new helicopters in the next three to five years, according to analysts. Of that, around 20 to 30 percent will be replacements for aging aircraft; the rest of the machines will be needed to service new offshore oil platforms.....

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