As part of a bid win approval for schedule flights in and out of Moscow, Russian Helicopter Systems plans to fly 40 scheduled flights from a helipad on the outskirts of the Russian capital to the MAKS air show at Zhukovsky International Airport.
The flights will be on the light, twin-engined Kazan Ansat helicopter, cost about 19,000Rb ($288), last about 20min and are about 70% sold, says Russian Helicopter Systems. The company claims the flights to the show are the first scheduled helicopter flights in Moscow in the last 30 years.
Russian Helicopter Systems has 14 Ansat helicopters in its fleet: 12 used as emergency medical service transports, one for VIP transportation and another for utility applications. It plans to receive three more Ansat helicopters by the end of 2019.
Founded in 2006, the firm has financed its helicopter leases through the Russian government’s State Owned Leasing Company. It also has five medium, twin-engined Mil Mi-8s, one light, twin-engined Leonardo AW109 and one medium, twin-engined AW139 and one light, single-engined Robinson R-44. It is expecting to receive an additional six Mil Mi-8s by the end of 2019, bringing its total number of helicopters to 31.
The company has constructed two helicopter pads in Moscow, one in Moscow International Business Center and a floating helipad on the Moskva River. However, the operator needs government approval to fly in the highly restricted airspace around the Russian capital. It hopes that the flight demonstrations will help gain approval Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is scheduled to visit MAKS. After gaining approval Russian Helicopter Systems believes it could start operations in a matter of months.
The operator believes the Ansat is best equipped to ferry up to seven passengers at once to destinations within a 216nm (400km) radius of Moscow. It sees the whole Moscow Oblast region as able to sustain 10 to 20 helicopters making regular scheduled flights, though it declines to say what portion of that market it believed it could capture.
However, flying the Ansat on regularly schedule flights in Moscow might be difficult, especially in the winter when extreme cold and whiteout conditions can make operating a helicopter precarious. The Ansat has no de-icing system at the moment. Russian Helicopter Systems says it is working with Kazan’s parent company, Russian Helicopters, on adding the technology. “However, Ansat is certified for temperatures from -45°C (-49°F) to +50° C, (-58°F)” says Russian Helicopter Systems.
The helicopter is also is not instrument flight rules certificated, but Russian Helicopter Systems says it expects to have approval “in the near future.” As the launch customer for the Ansat, Russian Helicopter Systems says it has guided Kazan’s development of new features and performance improvements on the helicopter, including weight reductions, additional range, air conditioning and different loading procedures.
The Ansat first flew in 1999. The Russian air force is the largest operator of the light helicopter, flying 50 examples as trainers.
Correction: Russian Helicopter Systems, not Russian Helicopters, believes scheduled flights could start in a matter of months