Remember that day in early spring when suddenly it seemed as if every flower that could bloom actually did, unnoticed and overnight? That’s what happened at the end of the year, when some long-somnolent vertical-lift programs suddenly sprang to life. Most notable was the Bell/Agusta BA609 civil tiltrotor, which underwent its first power-on engine runups at its Arlington, Texas test base early last month.
Mil Moscow Helicopter Plant
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s recent Middle East tour triggered the signing of a $25 million contract to supply six Kamov Ka-226 light helicopters to Jordan over the next two years. The deal is a breakthrough for Russian helicopter manufacturers as Jordan previously bought only Western-built rotorcraft.
The launch customers of the Kamov Ka-226 helicopter–the Moscow city government and fossil-fuel company RAO Gazprom–have begun pilot training and operational trials using semi-experimental machines. Their goal is to qualify crews before production helicopters enter service this month or next.
At Airshow China2004–held from November 1 to 6 in Zhuhai, Guangdong–Russian and Chinese helicopter manufacturers revealed new medium-weight helicopter projects. For the first time, Mil exhibited a model of the Mi-54, and AVIC II revealed details about the medium utility helicopter it is studying.
Russia’s Ulan-Ude Aviation Plant, which is exhibiting jointly with Russia’s state arms export agency Rosoboronexport, is about to expand its presence in the Middle East with the opening of a service center based in the neighboring emirate of Sharjah.
Russia has created a unified United Aircraft Construction Corp. that consolidates aircraft companies Sukhoi, MiG, Ilyushin, Tupolev, Kazan, Komsomolsk, Nizhy Novgorod and Novosibirsk. Last week Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree creating the joint stock corporation to develop, manufacture, sell, modernize, service and support civilian and military aircraft and related equipment.
Kamov Helicopters continues to seek increased cooperation with the U.S. and other Western helicopter and engine manufacturers. In late January, the Russian firm hosted a Western delegation with representatives from Rolls-Royce at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow. The U.S. Trade and Development Agency also met with top management of OPK Oboronprom, Kamov and Kamov-Holding.
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