Russian Helicopter's MI-1712A commercial passenger helicopter

Sets up production line for Ka-226 to be made for India

by Ksenia Kondratieva

In a bid to speed up the decision-making process by Indian officials, Russian Helicopters — a part of Rostec Holding — is planning to showcase to Prime Minister Narendra Modi two of its Made for India copters during the two-day Eastern Economic Forum that starts in Vladivostok on Wednesday.

Both helicopters — the light multi-role Ka-226T and advanced-medium multi-role MI-1712A — are already stationed in Vladivostok.

Ka-226 Line

Russian Helicopter’s Ulan-Ude Aviation Plant that celebrated its 80th anniversary on August 31 — built in East Siberia in 1939, the plant was a key aircraft and helicopter manufacturing facility during the Second World War and the Soviet era — will now house a new production line for the Ka-226Ts to be built for Indian Army.

As per the $1-billion deal, which is yet to be signed, India is to procure first 60 helicopters from Russia in fly-away condition, while the remaining 140 will be made in India by a joint venture formed by Russian Helicopters and HAL.

According to Sergei Solomin, First Deputy MD, and Technical Director of Ulan-Ude Aviation Plant, the company has already started setting up the Ka-226 line so as to work out the technology, skill up the workforce, and shorten the production cycle as well as prepare for the eventual manufacture in India.

The decision to set up the “Indian” Ka-226 line in Ulan-Ude was taken because “this is the most advanced plant and one of the requirement of the Indian side was that the manufacturing process should be utterly digitalised,” Solomin added. This, according to him, means almost zero project documentation on paper as well as using the latest 3D modelling technologies in the manufacturing process.

Ulan-Ude Plant last year produced 76 helicopters. Around 20 per cent of the plant’s orders are defence-related, from the Russian government, while the rest are for civilian copters orders with almost half for export. The plant currently employs over 5,500 people.

Commercial Orders

While Russian Helicopters waits for India to finally “okay” the $1-billion contract for 200 Ka-226T helicopters, it is also waiting for India’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation to issue the certificate for its MI-1712A helicopter as it is ready to deliver this helicopter to a private customer in India, Global Vectra Helicorp Ltd.

“We hope to get the certificate for this helicopter by end of September,” Leonid Belykh said.

Sergei Solomin said Russian Helicopters is specifically targeting South Asian markets, including India, for civilian helicopters as this market is poised to grow significantly in the next decade.

Ksenia Kondratieva was in Ulan-Ude on an invitation from Russian Helicopters