Changes throughout Russian Helicopters are geared to its expansion plans
CEO Dmitry Petrov is leaving his post after the MAKS air show, but has made his mark by helping to set the consolidated company on a course to go head-to-head with its competitors in the West.
During his three-year tenure, Petrov says, the company has grown its capabilities and its concomitant sales and profits, delivering 290 helicopters in 2012 and raising revenues by 21% to 125 billion rubles ($4 billion). The focus has been on widening the scope of its product line and on striving to improve upon its reputation for poor customer service for those located outside the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).
Toward this end, the company has opened new service centers in South Africa and the Middle East, as well as pursuing joint ventures such as the HeliVert program—in conjunction with—to build AW139 medium helicopters for Russian and CIS customers at a facility near Moscow. The partnership has already blossomed and will result in a new 2.5-ton light helicopter, due to be certified by the end of 2016. The two companies were scheduled to sign key documents at the MAKS air show, which runs from Aug.27-Sept.1, that relate to development and work share of the new helicopter program. The deal is expected to be finalized by the end of the year.
Russian Helicopters is also working to cultivate partnerships in emerging markets overseas. In South Africa, the company is negotiating with the Paramount Group—a manufacturer better-known for the production of armored vehicles—about the possible production of the Kazan Ansat twin-engine light helicopter there. This would take advantage of the experience and expertise of Paramount's most recent acquisition, ATE (Advanced Technology and Engineering) South Africa, a company known for its systems and weapons integration work on rotary- and fixed-wing aircraft.
Having firmly established a market for Russian-built helicopters in Latin America, a set-up Petrov describes as “unthinkable a few years before,” the company is now—as are Western manufacturers—actively exploring the potential of production in Brazil, particularly for its new modelKa-62 medium helicopter. This type is being aimed at the oil and gas support market. The first Ka-62 is scheduled to fly later this year, and Brazilian operator Atlas Taxi Aereo will be the launch customer. The company is also investing in a high-speed testbed to prove technologies for Rachel, its advanced high-speed helicopter program. Rachel will use a streamlined fuselage and new main rotor engine technology to achieve cruise speeds 1.5 times that of the current generations of helicopter—up to 195 kph.
Petrov says the aim is to produce an aircraft in the 10-ton class that can provide more speed without a major increase in the cost of operations.