In this month’s Aircraft Comparative Analysis- we provide information on a selection of new and pre-owned Single- Engine Turbine helicopters in the $0.54-$2.4 million price range with the purpose of valuing the pre-owned Eurocopter AS-350B-2 helicopter. We’ll consider the usual productivity parameters (payload/range- speed and cabin size)- and cover current market values. The field in this study includes the MD 600N and Bell 206L1.
Eurocopter AS-350B-2 Ecureuil
In this month’s Aircraft Comparative Analysis- we provide information on a selection of new and pre-owned Single- Engine Turbine helicopters for sale in the $0.54-$2.4 million price range with the purpose of valuing the pre-owned Eurocopter AS-350B-2 helicopter. We’ll consider the usual productivity parameters (payload/range- speed and cabin size)- and cover current market values. The field in this study includes the McDonnell Douglas 600N and Bell 206L1.
Table A (below) shows the history of the AS- 350B single turbine series helicopter- starting in 1977. The Eurocopter AS-350B-2 has been produced since 1989. There are currently 1-148 AS-350B-2 helicopters in operation. The AS-350B-2 Ecureuil featured a more powerful engine than the AS-350B-1 Ecureuil and was equipped with main and tail rotor blades originally developed for the AS-355F Ecureuil II. Also shown- the AS-350 series makes up 40% of the 9-367 Eurocopter helicopters produced. Overall- Eurocopter has produced 39% of all the Commercial Civil Western manufactured helicopters (which totals 23-923 units- per JETNET records- as of January 2013).
In North America- this model is commonly known as the AS-350B-2 ‘AStar’. The AS- 350B-2 is now also being manufactured in the American Eurocopters plant at Golden Triangle Airport in Lowndes County near Columbus- Mississippi.
PAYLOAD AND RANGE
As we mentioned in past articles- a potential operator should focus on payload capability as a key factor. The data contained in Table B (below) is sourced from Conklin & de Decker. The AS-350B-2 ‘Available payload with Maximum Fuel’ at 878 pounds is the highest payload capability in this field of study.
According to Conklin & de Decker- the cabin volume of the Eurocopter AS-350-B2- at 95 cubic feet- is larger than the MD 600N helicopter (92 cubic feet)- as shown in Chart A (below). The Bell 206L1 - offering 100 cubic feet - has the largest cabin volume in the field of comparison.
The AS-350B-2 is powered by a single Turbomeca Ariel 1D1 engine- whereas both the MD 600N and the Bell 206L1 utilize a single Rolls-Royce 250 powerplant. The AS- 350B-2 powerplant offers a power rating with a 732 SHD transmission rating [transmission rating is a limiting factor in the total rated and usable engine power output]. The MD 600N engine offers a transmission rating of 808 SHD- while the Bell 206L1 engine transmission rating - at 650 SHD - is the lowest in this field of study.
Using data sourced from Conklin & de Decker and Vref we will compare our helicopters. The nationwide average Jet-A fuel cost used from the August 2012 edition of B&CA Operations Planning Guide was $6.04 per gallon at press time- so for the sake of comparison we’ll chart the numbers as published.
Note: The fuel price used from this source does not represent an average fuel price for the year.
TOTAL VARIABLE COST COMPARISONS
The ‘Total Variable Cost’- illustrated in Chart B (below)- is defined as the cost of Fuel Expense- Maintenance Labor Expense- Scheduled Parts Expense and Miscellaneous trip expense. The total variable cost for the AS-350B-2 at $726 is the lowest in this field of study.
The points in Chart C (below) center on the same group of helicopters. Pricing used in the vertical axis is as published in Vref. The productivity index requires further discussion in that the factors used can be somewhat arbitrary. Productivity can be defined (and it is here) as the multiple of three factors:
1. Range with full payload and available fuel;
2. The long range cruise speed flown to achieve that range;
3. The cabin volume available for passengers and amenities.
The result is a very large number so for the purpose of charting- each result is divided by one billion. The examples plotted are confined to the helicopters in this study. A computed curve fit on this plot would not be very tight- but when all turbine helicopters are considered the “r” squared factor would equal a number above 0.9.
Others may choose different parameters- but serious helicopter buyers are usually impressed with Price- Range- Speed and Cabin Size.
After consideration of the Price- Range- Speed and Cabin Size- we can conclude that the AS-350B-2 helicopter- as shown in the productivity index is productive compared with the other helicopters represented. The Long Range Cruise speed- Cabin Volume and Average Payload values from Conklin and de Decker are shown in Table C (right) for all the helicopters in this field of comparison. Also shown in Table C is the Vref price for new and used helicopter prices.
The last three columns of information show the number of helicopters in-operation and the percentage “For Sale”along with the average monthly number of sales transactions in the past 12 months. The AS-350B-2 has the lowest percentage for sale and the highest average monthly full retail sale transactions at 11. That’s the most sold- based on a monthly average compared to the rest of the field in this study.
Table D (right) shows the ‘Top Five’ usages by business type of the AS-350B-2 helicopter. The ‘Top Five’ business types account for 91% of the most common uses for the AS- 350B-2 helicopter. End-User owned- Charter- Leasing and Air Ambulance account for 35 out of the 53 (total) AS-350B-2 helicopters that are currently ‘For Sale’. The remaining percentage of usages comprise Air Tours- Aviation Related Business- Dealer Broker- Flight Schools- Search & Rescue- and more.
Chart D (below) shows the location by continent for the Eurocopter AS-350B-2 helicopter. North America has the majority with 55% of the AS-350B-2 helicopters- followed by South America (15%) and Europe (14%). Combined these three locations account for nearly 84% of the fleet.
Within the preceding paragraphs we have touched upon several of the attributes that helicopter operators value. However- there are often other qualities such as service and support that factor into a buying decision- and are beyond the scope of this article. The Eurocopter AS-350B-2 helicopter fares well against its competition - so those operators in the market should find the preceding comparison of value. Our expectations are that the Eurocopter AS-350B-2 helicopter will continue to do very well in the pre-owned market.
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