Heliports became a critical part of transportation networks last year. Due to the pandemic, many organisations required enhancements to their heliports, particularly in the private, government and healthcare sectors.
Moving into 2021, heliport owners are looking into how they can predict and prepare for the year ahead – what assets are needed for remote management, and how to ensure pilot safety and connection at all times. There is also a desire to know if heliport installation will be made easier for end-users and integrators.
The lighting market will continue to expand at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 2% from 2020 to 2024. This is a modest growth rate fuelled by emergency services, despite the reduction in private transportation.
Ambulance services require more helicopters and helipads to deal with an increase in patients due to COVID-19. Critical helicopter transportation continues to be necessary to minimise the risk of fatalities in overcrowded city centres.
The demand by the police, fire brigades and state emergency services divisions for helipads is also increasing, in large part due to their capacity to deal with critical situations. In 2020, fire brigades in the USA and Australia saw the benefit of using helicopter buckets to extinguish large bushfires.
Another substantial issue that has arisen is the sharing of resources between countries. Due to overlapping needs such as fire seasons, resources have been stretched, and there is now an inability to share. More helicopters are needed for emergencies, and permanent heliports will be required to house them.
Heliport layouts have their differences. Each system must be designed for specific specifications to adapt to the place it will be built. However, this customisation comes at an additional cost for the end-user.
By standardising some aspects of layouts, more heliports can be rolled out. The added benefit is that the layouts can more easily meet specific regulations. The push to simplify the design and layout of heliports will cause regulators to unify and unite. It will also allow a range of consultants and integrators to install systems to meet demand.
Consistency builds efficiency, leading to plug and play installations with added reliability. A turn-key system will include design and regulation compliance, with control capabilities added directly by the OEM.
Heliport lighting design is a specialised skill set, and the availability of turn-key systems reduces the knowledge gap and technical staff required for installation.
Pilot activated lighting control, RF and remote control will increase as fewer people remain on-site to operate the heliport. By connecting the system, the pilot has the authority to make the landing as safe as possible no matter the conditions.
This increase in pilot control will save money for businesses and governments, as less long-term expenditure will be needed to keep the heliport functioning. It also ensures the heliport is always available.
Understanding these trends is key to ensuring heliport success in a new global environment. Making it easier to commission and install heliport will be the key to changing how they are built.
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By Wade Evans and Mason Sugars
Wade Evans is the Product, Project and Solutions Manager for Aviation and Digital.
Mason Sugars is the Product Marketing Coordinator for Aviation.