Russia seeks greater home demand for helos

 - June 30, 2009, 12:02 PM
Looking beyond the current financial picture, the Russian aviation industry plans to increase helicopter production in the coming years, according to Andrei Reus, director general of Oboronprom. In fact, the Russian helicopter manufacturing industry aims to capture 15 percent of the world’s helicopter market by 2015.

At this year’s Heli-Russia he told AIN that last year Russian manufacturers turned out 169 helicopters.

This year the industry plans to build around 200, but new orders might bring total production to 210. Next year the industry plans to increase total helicopter production by 20 percent, said Reus.

According to his estimates, the domestic market currently absorbs 25 to 30 percent of Russian helicopter output, while 70 percent is exported. The goal is to raise domestic helicopter sales to 40 percent in the next few years, and to 50 percent in the longer term. Today, Russian manufacturers hold a backlog of orders for 400 helicopters, approximately 80 percent of them for export. Some 100 helicopters are expected to be added to their order books this year.

Of the 169 helicopters built last year, most (59) came from the Ulan-Ude Aviation Plant. Kazan Helicopters (55 aircraft), Rostvertol (Rostov Helicopter Production Complex, 44 aircraft) and Kumertau Aviation Production Enterprise (11) also filled orders for new-build helicopters. Specialists from Moscow-based Mil Helicopter Plant and Kamov provided the engineering support at the aforementioned plants.

Last year, Russian manufacturers added to the fleet 114 Mi-8/17s, 20 Mi-24/35M and Mi-28N attack helicopters and 11 Ka-27/32s. The 24 Mi-2 light helicopters Rostvertol comprehensively upgraded are included as new machines in the final 2008 production figures. In 2007, Russia built 102 helicopters (83 Mi-8/17s, 11 Ka-27/32s and eight Mi-24/35 attack helicopters).

According to Reus, “Growth is expected in sales of Ka-52 and Mi-28N gunships and Ansat and Mi-38 helicopters. Subsequently, an advanced high-speed helicopter will be offered to the market.”

Recognizing that service builds sales, Russian manufacturers expect to increase the number of maintenance centers servicing Russian helicopters outside Russia and the CIS to about two dozen facilities by next year. A certified Russian helicopter integrated logistic support network will be established in Europe by the end of this year.

“Maintenance centers already operate in Colombia, Mexico, Vietnam and the UAE,” said Reus, and the creation of a regional maintenance center in South Africa for service and repair of Mi-8/Mi-17s based in sub-Saharan countries is under study.

Maintenance centers will be established in Southeast Asia and Central Africa through 2012. A maintenance center is also being established in Venezuela. “We will also conduct talks with the Indian Defense Ministry for establishing a maintenance center in that country,” said Reus. There are also plans to create regional maintenance centers to service Russian helicopters in the Middle East, Iraq and Afghanistan.