Business aviation companies eager to tap Russian private and corporate wealth could be in luck here in Geneva this week because the country’s economy is bouncing back and Russians are once again shopping for aircraft. Russia’s economy is seeing growth rates as high as 10 percent–a figure that puts most of Western Europe in the shade.
Moscow’s JetExpo 2010 show last month provided evidence of strengthening demand for business aviation in the upper reaches of the Russian market. However, it is demand from the Russian government itself, rather than private companies or individuals, that seems to be leading this trend.
The launch customers of the Kamov Ka-226 helicopter–the Moscow city government and fossil-fuel company RAO Gazprom–have begun pilot training and operational trials using semi-experimental machines. Their goal is to qualify crews before production helicopters enter service this month or next.
Five months ago, on February 20, the long-awaited creation of Russia’s new Unified Aircraft Co. (OAK, in its Russian acronym) became official when President Vladimir Putin signed a decree ordering the immediate amalgamation of all Russian aircraft building enterprises into one large group.
Bristow Helicopters subsidiary Aviashelf has achieved the first certification of a HUMS (health and usage monitoring system) fitted to a Mil Mi-8, by the Russian Federal Aviation Authority.
The center, which the company claims is the first in the country to be opened by a western rotorcraft maker, is located at Ostafievo Airport near Moscow. It is being run in partnership with Gazpromavia, the flight department of Russian energy group Gazprom, which is a Eurocopter operator.