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EMS market drives Russian Helicopters' civil resurgence

Russian Helicopters is making a concerted push to capture more of the emergency medical services (EMS) market as it sees reduced demand for bespoke military platforms.

Writing in the manufacturer's triannual in-house magazine, chief executive Andrey Boginsky says that Russian government-led efforts are driving demand for EMS aircraft.

Boginsky says "the [company's] participation in the programme of EMS aviation development in the Russian Federation" was largely responsible for a four-fold increase in civil deliveries in 2017 to "nearly 70".

"Jointly with our partners from State Transport Leasing Company [GTLK] we are conducting a very critical activity on expanding the fleet of medical helicopters which is crucial for bringing relief to our citizens living in hard-to-reach areas of the country," he says.

So far, Russian Helicopters has supplied, via GTLK, 29 EMS-configured helicopters: six Kazan Ansat light-singles, along with 10 Mil Mi-8MTV-1 and 13 Mi-8AMT heavy-twins.

GTLK will take an additional 31 EMS helicopters in 2018, says Boginsky.

Meanwhile, Russian Helicopters will shortly begin low-temperature operating trials on the Mi-171A2.

The latest variant of the long-running twin-engined model gained Russian airworthiness certification in August last year, and the manufacturer is now looking to add to that approval.

It will perform around 20 test flights using two helicopters in Yakutia in Russia's far north to confirm the Mi-171A2's operational capabilities at temperatures as low as -50° (-58°).

However, unusually cold weather in Yakutia may defeat even the Mi-171A2: on 16 January thermometers recorded a low temperature of -67°.

Russian operator UTair will be one of the first to receive the new helicopters, with a pair of aircraft due to be handed over in the spring of 2018 for trials.

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