Soloy Aviation Solutions, an aircraft engineering and parts firm based in Olympia, is citing strong sales of its SD2 conversion kits as a signal of an ongoing rebound in the helicopter market.
In the first half of 2013, Soloy has sold seven AS350SD2 engine conversion kits, including four in June alone. The SD2 kit exchanges the Eurocopter’s AS350B2 Turbomeca engine with a Honeywell LTS101-700D-2 turbine engine; the Honeywell engine, according to Soloy CEO Dave Stauffer, offers more fuel efficiency and greener operations than the Turbomeca.
The strong sales stand in contrast to just two years ago, when Soloy was moving under one kit a month. The numbers still don’t compare to 2008, when Soloy was doing over three kits a month, Stauffer said, but the climb in figures still represents a measurable uptick in demand.
“Sales so far this year of our SD2 kits have certainly been positive and show us that the helicopter utilization market is clearly strengthening,” Stauffer said. “While we will obviously enjoy selling even more SD2 kits in 2013, the numbers so far indicate that operators realize the value and reliability of the SD2 conversion and that the industry overall is recovering.”
The seven conversion kits sold this year to date exclude the 12 AC311 Honeywell engine kits sold to China’s Changhe Aircraft Industry Group for production of the firm’s AC311 helicopter. Those kits, Stauffer said, were differentiated because they do not include engines, which the Chinese firm buys directly instead. Still, the two figures together, he said, represent a positive note not only for Soloy, but for the industry market.