Russian Helicopters begins Asian offensive
Aviation firm looking at more civilian uses
Russian Helicopters Holding Co, a division of Rostec, showcased a new design of helicopter to military and aviation officials recently at U-tapao airfield as part of a regional tour.
The Ansat helicopter is a light aircraft intended for transport and emergency medical services (EMS). It can also serve a military function as a training helicopter for new pilots, as it is relatively easy to fly.
The company also showed off the Mi-171A2, a mid-sized multi-use helicopter that could be used for EMS and transport, but also decked out with luxury upholstery for heads of state or wealthy business executives.
It is the company's first tour of Southeast Asia since the days of the Soviet Union.
Veteran pilots flew the helicopters over the heads of a gathered crowd, set to dramatic classical music. Afterwards the audience could climb into the cockpit for spontaneous photo ops.
"The Ansat is very easy to pilot with good manoeuvrability and stability," said Vener Mukhametgareev, Russian Helicopter's test pilot. "It takes a very short time to start and take off which makes it great as an air ambulance."
The demonstration is part of Russian Helicopter's business strategy to break into the civil aviation market in Southeast Asia and China. The company already has many military contracts in the region, but would like to expand into civilian uses like medical emergencies, policing and VIP transport.
"We are striving to reinforce business relations with commercial and state customers in Thailand," said Andrey Boginsky, director-general of Russian Helicopters.
"The first deliveries of Ka-32A11BC helicopters to this country are scheduled by the end of the year. Potential operators have shown interest in Ansat and Mi-8/17 rotorcraft in various modifications, so we believe showcasing our helicopters here is perfectly timed."
The demonstration in China resulted in the sale of 20 Ansat helicopters, and the company received several applications showing interest in Vietnam and Cambodia.
"The point of these demonstrations is not only to gain new business but also to remind the local aviation society that Russian helicopters are still among the best," said Dmitry Danilov, deputy director-general for civil helicopter sales.
Russian Helicopters will establish a service centre in Thailand in partnership with Datagate Co to perform all types of maintenance, repair and replacing of components on Russian-made helicopters.