Saturday, 28 May 2011

Russian Military Ka-60 Eclipses Civil Ka-62 Helicopter

Development of the new Kamov Ka-60/62 medium twin helicopter — the first Kamov non-coaxial rotor aircraft — is gaining momentum through military orders and government subsidies.

Russian Helicopters, the holding company for the country’s rotorcraft industry and Kamov’s parent company, is simultaneously preparing both the Ka-60 military transport and the Ka-62 civil version. The latter has a maximum takeoff weight of 6,500 kg (14,300 lb.) and can carry 12-15 passengers at 290 kph (180 mph) speed over a range of 750 km (460 mi.).

The development of this type started in the late 1980s, and the initial prototype made its first flight in 1998. Capable of carrying up to a 2,500-kg payload, the Ka-60/62 was designed to fill a niche between the Ka-226 light twin and medium-class Ka-32 and Mil Mi-8/17 helicopters.

Unlike all other Kamov models that feature distinctive co-axial rotors, Ka-60 has a classic helicopter design with a five-bladed main rotor and shrouded tail rotor. According to the designers, its rotor blades and more than half of the fuselage are made from composites. Kamov currently has only one prototype in flight, powered by 1,300-hp NPO Saturn RD-600V turboshafts. Another prototype was lost in a crash during a test flight near Moscow in June 2010.

According to Russian Helicopters CEO Dmitry Petrov, the development efforts are now focused on the Ka-60, with Russia’s military having ordered more than 100 such helicopters. He said that two new prototypes are currently being built to join flight trials this year. One more test helicopter will join the trials in 2012.

The new versions apparently will differ from the existing rotorcraft by featuring a more streamlined fuselage and improved tail controls.

The other difference will be the powerplants — the prototypes will start trials with RD-600s, but recently received more powerful 1,680-hp Turbomeca Ardiden 3G engines.

At HeliRussia 2011, the annual helicopter industry exhibition recently held in Moscow, Russian Helicopters announced an order for 40 Ardiden 3Gs, with deliveries to begin in 2014.

The order is the first part of a contract for 308 powerplants signed between the Russian manufacturer and Turbomeca in April. According to Petrov, the French engines will be installed on all serial production helicopters. During the internal tender, Ardiden 3G “won over Russian engines on all key parameters,” he says. Earlier, the designers planned to use them only on civil Ka-62s, while the military Ka-60 retained the Russian RD-600V. “Now the [Russian] military [has] become more open to foreign equipment,” Petrov says.

The improved Ka-60/62 prototypes will also receive a new glass cockpit from St. Petersburg-based avionics specialist Transas Aviation. This avionics suite, called KBO-62 and unveiled at the show, is built around two 12.1-in. TDS-12 primary flight/navigation displays and two 8.4-in. TDS-84 MFDs, all with an LED backlight. Also included is the TTA-12H(S) terrain awareness and warning system with a built-in terrain and obstacles database; two TNC-1G flight management systems with built-in Glonass/GPS sensors; flight computers and TDC-17 cockpit indication control interfaces. The basic package weighs 19.5 kg.

This configuration can operate using digital maps and terrain models, and supports all typical helicopter applications.

Optional cockpit equipment offered on the Ka-62 includes a synthetic vision system and a searchlight. Transas Group Vice President Viktor Godunov says that several kits have already been shipped to Russian Helicopters for installation on Ka-60/62 prototypes.

The same avionics package can be put on Kamov Ka-226T light helicopters, which have the same-sized instrument panel, Transas designers say. But for now, this type is running in the Indian army’s tender for 197 light helicopter with a different avionics kit.

The Ka-60 is expected to begin serial production at the Arseniev-based Progress facility, a subsidiary of Russian Helicopters, starting in 2015.

Besides military orders, this program is supported by government subsidies. As Denis Manturov, deputy minister of industry and trade, said recently, from 2011-2013 Russian Helicopters will receive a total of 12.2 billion rubles ($435 million) from the federal budget for development of the Ka-60/62 as well as the Mi-38 heavy twin that also is in the flight trials stage.

According to Petrov, the civil Ka-62 will be certified in 2015-2016 under both Russian AR MAK and European Aviation Safety Agency standards. The holding does not have orders for the civil version now, but hopes that the installation of the foreign engine with a well-run maintenance network will increase the helicopter’s attractiveness for commercial operators.

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