Will Russia Have a People`s Helicopter?

IL Serge Pod #09.01.2002 20:52

Serge Pod


Will Russia Have a People`s Helicopter?

In the last 20 years, light helicopters have been able in a literal sense to turn over our notions about the capabilities of rotary-winged aircraft... It has turned out that even an ultralight helicopter is a serious helper in many undertakings, to the point of the most exotic type of archaeology or fishing. In extreme situations, small nimble aircraft really exceed as the only possible means of rescue. They are multipurpose, maneuverable, mobile, smaller sized, and the air flow created by the main rotor is several times smaller than that had by modern rescue helicopters which fully can drown those it is supposed to save.

The only failure of ultralight helicopters is the low weight of its useful load. However, prospective technologies have allowed a significant lowering of the weight of the equipment and outfitting, therefore, the modern air rescuers are in no way /in equipage/ outclassed by medium and even heavy helicopters, while really exceeding them in acquisition costs and service expenditures. These conclusions earnestly confirm the news from the helicopter marketplace: nearly half the civil helicopters sold annually are light aircraft with piston engines!

Unfortunately, we have formed the persistent opinion that in Russia there is no niche in the marketplace of ultralight helicopters in the comprehension of the masses, and it isn`t expected for a long time yet. Our helicopters may be only state-owned or belong to huge airlines. The psychology of the ``new Russians`` is if they are to ride, then it is in a Mercedes, and to fly, then on a huge Mi-8, no matter how much the flight cost.

Individual examples of light helicopters which appear from time to time do not find enough use for themselves and don`t take root. Several aircraft already have endured accidents and catastrophes. Semi-legal usage has become the nature of the source of the accidents, death of people and destruction of the helicopters. But its chief result is that light helicopters have not received in Russia a mandate of public trust and therefore have been set back several dozen years. They still have a long way to go in which to show their competence and professional suitability.

So we didn`t understand that in Russia with its expanses and lack of highways helicopter giants and light aircraft can get along painlessly. Despite any worldwide tendency, changes of economic and geopolitical conditions and conditions of usage, and while overlooking the fact that in the helicopter world light helicopters realize up to 70 percent of the trips, Russian helicopter builders continue to build and upgrade heavy combat and civil aircraft with envial persistence. There are the Mi-28, Mi-24 and Mi-8/17, Mi-38, Mi-26T or Ka-27, Ka-28, Ka-29, Ka-32, and Ka-50/52, takeoff weight of each of which exceeds 10 tonnes, versus several Mi-34S, ``Gals`` and full scale mockups of the ``Aktay,`` Ka-115 and Mi-60MAI. Not insignificant funds are being expended not only for development and construction, but also for marketing of the heavy aircraft at a time when the light aircraft, simple and accessible, are if not capable of replacement, then can be acquired for part of the ta!
sks which the medium and heavy aircraft try to resolve today. A paradoxical situation has taken place - we need light helicopters, but we don`t offer them on the marketplace. If a whole class of helicopters isn't called for, then that means there are barriers erected - far-fetched and artificial. For whom is it advantageous for us not to have helicopters flying?

Each helicopters should be occupied with its own position. It is stupid to carry 100 kilograms of freight or one superior on an Mi-8. In the turn over of cargo, such loads are more than half, but there are only a few light helicopters in the fleet. According to the most optimistic forecasts, over 15 years 1,250 helicopters will be sold in Russia, of which nearly 400 are light weight, meaning that the tendency for the prevalence of medium and heavy helicopters will be maintained for about another 25 years.

On the opposite side, in the rest of the helicopter world, piston-driven helicopters continue steadily to disprove the forecasts regarding the reduction in their sales. In the opinion of the leading specialists, in the coming decade, the share of new single-engine piston-driven helicopters will decrease gradually from 40 to 35 percent, but even a third of the marketplace is very serious.

In Russia, light helicopters still have to prove not only their competency, but also to gain the experience of safe and effective usage. It will be dozens of years before hundreds of light-weight rotary vehicles will lift into the sky daily to assist in a difficult time or to make our life better in order to become really the people`s helicopters.

Source: 09.01.02, TS-VPK. Evgeniy Matveev using material from Vozdushnyy Transport

Translated by Roy Cochrun /http://www.toad.net/cgi-bin/cgiwrap/royfc/today/acft_news.html/

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