In a bid to establish an equal footing with Western helicopter manufacturers, Russian Helicopters recently made multiple announcements about sales, programs and joint ventures.
First, the company certified the Ansat light twin, one of a number of helicopters the company has in development (see box). Certified with conventional flight controls rather than the fly-by-wire (FBW) controls originally planned, the Ansat fell short of being the first commercial helicopter with a FBW system. This was the initial plan but “no commercial FBW helicopter had obtained certification anywhere in the world, and there were no established requirements for such a helicopter,” the company said to explain its development of the conventional version.
The helicopter retains the same takeoff weight (7,900 pounds) and technical parameters, according to Kazan Helicopters, the subsidiary in charge of designing and producing the type. It is powered by two Pratt & Whitney Canada PW207Ks and can carry eight passengers at a cruise speed of 119 knots. The Ansat has already been demonstrated in the CIS, Southeast Asia, Africa and Latin America, according to its manufacturer.
With certification in hand from Russia’s Aviation Register of the Interstate Aviation Committee (AR IAC), Russian Helicopters is considering applying for EASA certification in the future, depending on European market demand. Meanwhile, the company is delivering the FBW version to the Russian Defense ministry.
The corporate/executive version of the Mi-171 also received AR IAC certification. The “central passenger salon” can accommodate up to eight passengers and one steward, according to Russian Helicopters. The designer and outfitter of the luxury interior, AeroTaxi-Service, has put an emphasis on thermal insulation and soundproofing of the cabin.
Instead of a UHF radio, the helicopter is equipped with a Prima-VHF radio. In addition, it has “radio equipment for providing in-flight updates and entertainment to passengers, a Pulsar radio station and universal communication unit.”
Russian Helicopters is also making some progress on its design of a 5,500-pound light single as a 50-50 joint venture with AgustaWestland. “The preliminary assessment of the helicopter’s technical design and commercial opportunities is expected to be completed in the next few months,” the two companies said. The aircraft, smaller than the AW119, would compete with the Eurocopter EC130T2. Certification is expected in 2016, a Russian Helicopters spokesperson told AIN.
MAKS Airshow Presence
The Moscow-based manufacturer had a significant presence at the MAKS 2013 airshow in Zhukovsky. At the August event, the company showed the prototype of the Ka-62 medium twin for the first time. Manufactured at Russian Helicopters’ Arsenyev plant, it could fly this fall. Colombia’s Vertical de Aviacion has ordered five of the aircraft to serve the oil industry there. Deliveries are scheduled to begin in 2016.
Vertical de Aviacion simultaneously ordered five Mi-171A1s, to be delivered beginning in 2015 and to operate in Mexico for cargo and passenger flights. The type can carry 26 passengers or four metric tons (8,800 pounds) of freight. The Colombian company currently operates 30 Mi-17s.
It will work with Russian Helicopters to obtain the certification of the Mi-171A1 in Mexico and the Ka-62 in Colombia. Such collaboration last year resulted in the Colombian aviation authorities’ validating the Mi-171’s AR IAC type certification.
Another sales contract was signed with Kazakhstan’s Almaty Rescue Service for one Mi-8AMT medium twin. Fitted with an anti-icing system and an SLG-300 cargo winch, the helicopter will be used for rescue and medevac missions in urban and mountain areas. Delivery is scheduled for next year.
Also on display at MAKS 2013 was the Mi-171A2, the latest in the Mi-8/17 series. The helicopter’s AR IAC certification is pegged for next year, with customer deliveries to start in 2015. A second prototype is to join the development program by year-end.
The helicopter is powered by two 2,400-shp Klimov VK2500PS-03 turboshafts in place of 2,200-shp TV3-117VMs. The transmission and rotor systems have been modified to extend the helicopter’s operating life. The main rotor is now made of composites and the tail rotor is X-shaped.
In the cockpit, the Mi-171A2 features a KBO-17 avionics suite, designed to make the helicopter more responsive and reduce crew workload. The equipment also includes a PKV-171A digital autopilot.
Another, minor announcement by Russian Helicopters was a memorandum of understanding with Turbomeca to open a maintenance center for the Arrius 2G1 and Ardiden 3G, which power the Ka-226T light twin and the Ka-62, respectively.
As of August, Russian Helicopters had a backlog of orders for 870 aircraft, to be produced by 2020. The company plans to export 232 helicopters in that period, according to the Itar-Tass new agency. The same source said this year that the company is planning to sell 25 civil helicopters outside Russia, out of a total of 71 civil deliveries.