The annual Russian Hour at Heli-Expo yesterday played to a full house. It is the third year that Russian exhibitors at the show have joined to offer a presentation profiling their nation’s helicopter industry and market activity, and there was plenty
to talk about.
Mikhail Kazachkov, head of Russian Helicopter Systems, left no doubt as to the size of the helicopter community in Russia, or its activity. He noted, “There are 2,118 civil helicopters in service in Russia” and he added that Russian rotorcraft currently operate in 100 countries worldwide.
Western Inroads in Russia
As for the market within Russia for foreign-made helicopters, he offered a list starting with 300 Robinson Helicopter models. Other western manufacturers making a lesser dent in the Russian market include Eurocopter with 70, Bell with 20, AgustaWestland with eight, and MD Helicopters with four.
Presenters at the Russian Hour also paid tribute to the venerable Mil-8, which celebrates its 35th anniversary this year. The Mil-8, which represents some 22 percent of total Russian helicopters in service, has a reputation as a workhorse, and Kazachkov said there are some individual aircraft with a total of more than 27,000 flight hours.
It is the ease of operation and maintenance, reliability, low cost and unique payload and altitude capabilities that make Russian rotorcraft among the most rational options on the global market, according to Russian Helicopters (Booth No. 4201).
The company announced it is creating a global support network based on certified maintenance organizations and joint-service enterprises. The network will allow the company to support Russian rotorcraft through their entire lifecycles, from delivery
Looking forward, Kazachkov also expressed the belief that the Russian helicopter industry is now witnessing a rapidly growing demand for light helicopters. That number has grown by six times in the past five years, he added.
To be a competitor in this light helicopter market will require a concerted effort by Russian manufacturers. One of the new developments in that segment is a three-seat RU MAS-133 from Maslov-Sever Design Bureau. Also in progress is an effort by Rosvertol to produce a Mil-2 light helicopter.
Offering listeners a look forward, Kazachkov said he expects there will be demand in Russia for some 500 helicopters over the next four years and a requirement for some 1,000 more from then through 2020.
Also promoted at Heli-Expo 2010 is the HeliRussia. 2010 exposition, scheduled for May 20 to 22 at Moscow’s Crocus Exposition Center. The 2009 show hosted nearly 30 exhibitors. HeliRussia has an exhibit here at Heli-Expo (Booth No. 4200).