A Robinson R44 light single is undergoing heavy repairs at UTair-Engineering’s facility in Tyumen, Russia. The complete “inspection and refitting” is expected to take three months, ending next month. In 2012, UTair-Engineering passed the Robinson Helicopter and Russian Aviation Authority performance audits for maintenance, repair and overhaul operations. The company is thus now an authorized service center for Robinson in Russia.
Mumbai-based Jet Airways last month announced the planned induction of five leased ATR 72-600s into its fleet. Scheduled to launch service with the first of the new 68-seat turboprops by the end of last year, Jet Airways said it expects to accept all five Gecas-sourced airplanes by the end of this March. The airline’s domestic expansion strategy centers on serving more so-called Tier II and Tier III destinations, according to Jet Airways COO Sudheer Raghavan.
Russian operator UTAir has secured a seven-year loan from British bank HSBC, on a security of French insurance agency Coface. It has thus become “the first Russian airline receiving insurance wrap from an international export agency for purchasing helicopters,” claims UTAir. The contract is for 19 Eurocopter AS350/AS355 Ecureuil/AStar singles.
Russia’s aviation safety record has been, by all accounts, poor the past few years, with the number of fatal accidents per million flights nearly tripling in 2011 compared with 2010. A recent takeoff crash of a UTair ATR 72-200 from a Siberian airport killed 31 of 43 occupants.
An ATR 72-201 operated by Russian regional airline UTair crashed this morning shortly after taking off from Tyumen in Western Siberia, killing at least 31 of the 43 occupants, including the entire four-person crew. Flight 120 came down in a snow-covered field near the town of Korkovka at around 7:50 a.m. local time, minutes after taking off for a 400-mile flight to the oil town of Surgut.
A UTAir crew will be honored on Monday with the Sikorsky Humanitarian Award for rescuing UN peacekeepers from enemy fire in the Congo. The honor is “presented to the person(s) who best demonstrate(s) the value of helicopters to society by saving lives, protecting property and aiding those in distress.”
Russia-based UTAir Aviation has not yet resumed Mil Mi-26T operations after they were suspended on December 20 following a fatal accident. On that day, one of the airline’s Mi-26 heavy twins landed hard, rolled and caught fire 135 nm south of Surgut in the Khanty Mansi autonomous region. One crewmember was killed, while the other five were injured. There were no passengers aboard. The company immediately announced fleet-wide inspections that were to be completed “in just a few days” before any further flying.
The only rotorcraft on display at Jet Expo 2011 was the Bell 429, of which the first example to be delivered to Russia arrived in June. The helicopter came in crates and was assembled at the Moscow aircraft repair plant with help of Russian rotorcraft maker Kazan.
Russia-based operator UTair has received a certificate of conformity to Eurocopter training standards, thus becoming the first Eurocopter training center without the manufacturer being a shareholder in the company. UTair’s Tyumen center is now approved for type-rating training of pilots and mechanics on the AS350 and AS355, in Russian, under Eurocopter programs.
The first ATR 72-500 ever delivered to a Russian airline now operates with UTair, the Siberian aviation company that recently placed an order for 20 of the type for its regional airline based in Khanty Mansiysk. Officially closed in late April and valued at $426 million at list prices, the contract calls for delivery of the new 70-seat turboprops through the end of next year.
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