Moscow's traffic police will begin patrolling the Russian capital's skies next month with RosAeroSystems Au-12 airships. The police are evaluating a pair of two-seat Au-12s, and a smaller single-seat Au-11 that will be used for crew training. Evaluation and training flights are under way at the LII flight test centre at Zhukovsky, near Moscow.

The airships will be restricted initially to clear weather and will not be able to fly in cloud or during snowstorms, according to RosAeroSystems chief designer Stanislav Fedorov.

Moscow-based RosAeroSystems says running costs of the Au-12 are pegged at around $100 a day compared with the $400/h for helicopters.

The manufacturer says it plans to produce larger airships and has received orders from a power generation firm for an eight-seat airship suitable for carrying cargo or repair crews.

Source: Flight International