UK helicopter fleet rises 139% in 25 years

UK helicopter fleet rises 139% in 25 years

6-Feb-2011 Source: HeliHub.com

Britain’s helicopter fleet has risen by 139% in the last 25 years, from 571 in 1986 to 1364 in 2011.  Analysis of statistics released by the CAA detailing aircraft registered on their “G” register at the 1st January each year from 1985 makes very interesting reading.

In 1986 there were four civilian Chinooks registered with British Airways Helicopters operating them on North Sea rig support flights.  The same year only had 27 helicopters below a max weight of 750kg, something that was to change dramatically with the introduction of the Robinson R22.  Looking ahead five years to 1991, the R22 had taken the lowest weight category by storm, increasing by over 200 to 231, while the 751-5700kg range had risen by a third from 448 to 595, likely fuelled by the burgeoning economy.  The UK fleet total actually rose 60% in that five year period.

1991 was the top of the market and the 1990’s recession did not see the 1st January total higher until 1999.  The R22 success story through the decade helped maintain the 0-750 kg category flat, while the 751-5700kg range dropped as charter and corporate operators took stock of the market conditions dropping 11% to 532.

The latter half of the 1990s brought with it a more buoyant market and the introduction of the hugely successful Robinson R44.  From 1996 to 2001, the R44 took the market by storm and boosted the total UK fleet from 838 to 997, and was largely responsible for a further 33% up in the next five years to a total of 1334 in 2006. Today there are 296 R44s on the UK register

The last five years saw an inital boost to an all time high of 1495 helicopters in 2009, but the global recession has brought with it a significant reduction in activity and many helicopters have been sold overseas, bringing the total back down to 1364 on 1st January 2011.

HeliHub.com would like to point out that these figures refer purely to helicopters on the British register with G- prefix registrations.  Today an estimated 132 foreign registered helicopters are based in the UK, and 92 G- registered examples are based outside the UK.  That would put the total UK based fleet at just over 1400.

see also CAA Statistics page

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