Sunday, 28 October 2012
Russia builds cropdusters, US designs new airships
The Moscow region may become a center of the production of small aircraft, the governor of the Moscow region Sergei Shoigu said. The meeting on the development of regional and local air service in the Central Federal District of Russia took place on October 23rd in the town of Zhukovsky. The authorities announced their intention to build assembly plants in the town of Balashikha to assemble American five-seated Maule M-9, Czech 19-seated L-410 and Russian upgraded An-2 aircraft there, the Kommersant said. "I know for certain that next year in May we will begin to assemble the An-2 aircraft. We will start doing it, at all costs. If there's a need to repair the workshops - we will repair them. If there's a need to raise loans - we will raise them," said the governor. Sergei Shoigu is sure that reviving the production of the upgraded An-2 aircraft is essential for the whole country. Responding to the remarks from one of the leaders of Zhukovsky airfield, who said that creating small aircraft was unprofitable due to transportation charges, Shoigu said: "It's good that the people living in Tiksi, Podkamennaya Tunguska or other hard-to-reach locations in Siberia do not hear you. And if it wasn't for highly expensive Alrosa aircraft, I do not know how people could live there at all, and how the Northern delivery could be conducted there!" According to him, one should produce at least 100 such aircraft. "They used to fly in the north and in Siberia. Now there is nothing that people can fly there. Airplanes and helicopters of foreign production began to appear, but we have no place where we could repair them," said Shoigu. "If this plane [An-2] doesn't appear, we will not have the planes that would fly to northern territories. Attaching highest priority to profitability is wrong. Profitability is a temporary concept," said the governor. First class test pilot Alexander Akimenkov told Pravda.Ru that the An-2 was a unique aircraft for Russia. "This is the only aircraft, where pilots can choose a landing spot while flying. The plane can land anywhere. When Medvedev flew to the Far East, people were begging him to give the An-2 back to them. This is the only aircraft that can be of huge help there. The An-2 gave rise to oil and mining industries. If they stop the production of An-26 and An-2, then over 2,500 settlements will be left without doctors. There will be no pension, no mail, no power for them in the end. 82 percent of Russian territories are the places that can be reached only by plane. And most importantly, the aircraft maintains crude oil production. Russia is an oil power," said the pilot. As for the production of American small capacity aircraft, Akimenkov is not sure whether the models are going to be in demand in our country. "As for U.S. and other foreign planes - why do we need a 5-seater? We need to transport sheep and goats! Foreign planes are not for our remote settlements, plus it's expensive. Yes, it is very comfortable for officials to fly them. So let them buy a plane like that," he said. The An-2 is a 12-seated transport aircraft, the so-called "cropduster". Aircraft designer Oleg Antonov designed it in October 1940. Nowadays, it is used as a passenger and cargo aircraft in local air traffic. Meanwhile, US specialists have developed a prototype of a new cargo airship -Pelican, Vzglyad reports. The aircraft can become an alternative to modern military transport aircraft, including the strategic Boeing C-17, the load capacity of which exceeding 70 tons. One of the major advantages of airships is the possibility of vertical takeoff and landing. In addition, cargoes can be unloaded from airships on unprepared locations. The ground tests of Pelican airships should begin at the end of October; flight tests are said to begin in early 2013. In Russia, there are two companies that design airships. The firm Augur has produced 12 airships of five different types since 1999. Nowadays, one of the company's latest models, Au-30, prepares to fly to the North Pole. The Defense Ministry buys the majority of airships to conduct patrol, technical monitoring, aerial, geophysical and other surveys. The company Locomosky designed "Locomoskyner" airship to explore the Earth interior and offshore areas of the ocean. The carrying capacity of the airship is one ton. There is also a model for monitoring and control - for example, to monitor oil pipelines and special objects. In 2006, the company decided to revive the project of Academician Yuri Ryzhov to design a thermoplane that would be capable of carrying 600 tons of cargo. Chairman of the Board of Directors of Locomosky, Kirill Lyats, said that until the end of the year the company would fine sources to finance the project to build a cargo airship in three or four years.