How coronavirus helps Ansat enter China

China’s aviation authorities accelerated Kazan helicopter’s certification to provide mobility of sanitary services in the fight against the coronavirus

How coronavirus helps Ansat enter China
Photo: Maksim Platonov

Russian Helicopters opened a “window” to the sky of the Celestial Kingdom for Kazan’s Ansat. The Civil Aviation Administration of the PRC completed two-year certification of the Russian helicopter’s compliance with aviation requirements of the country and granted a validated certificate. As strange as it might sound, the epidemic of coronavirus in China became an impulse to the acceleration of obviously drawn-out procedures. It became really necessary to strengthen the aviation fleet for doctors, claim sources in the aviation sector in a talk with Realnoe Vremya: “If a contract with the PRC was signed, ‘flying medical modules’ can be delivered quite quickly”.

China is open for Ansat

The big sky of China finally “smiled” at Ansat from Kazan. Russian Helicopters holding (a part of Rostec state corporation) completed the validation of the certificate of Ansat lightweight multipurpose helicopter in the People’s Republic of China, said the press service of Kazan Helicopters, which is the only manufacturer of series of the vehicle and its original engineer.

“The validation of the certificate of China’s aviation authorities allows starting supplies of helicopters in accordance with the contract signed,” reads the message of Kazan Helicopters.

It is the first export contract of Kazan Helicopters on the supply of 3-4-tonne lightweight helicopters that are not promoted in the world markets and they find it difficult to compete with advanced European machines. China is to become a leading user of the new Russian brand. It should be reminded that the agreement on the supply of 20 Ansat helicopters was signed as early as 2018 during Airshow China 2018. The Association of Emergency Medicine of the PRC is to become the client, this is why the helicopter is built with a medical unit.

According to Realnoe Vremya’s sources close to Kazan Helicopters, if the contract was signed, the production of helicopters should be launched beforehand. According to commitments, Kazan Helicopters is to deliver a whole lot of machines in 2020.

“The validation of the certificate of China’s aviation authorities allows starting supplies of helicopters in accordance with the contract signed,” reads the message of Kazan Helicopters. Photo: Maksim Platonov

“Earlier, the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) validated the engine PW207K by Pratt&Whitney Canada installed on Ansat helicopter, there was also given a report of the Air Aircraft Evaluation Group (AEG) at the CAAC on serviceability of Ansat helicopter,” said the press service of Russian Aviation Agency.

A hundred helicopters to come?

The Russian Ministry of Industry and Trade that rendered state support for the new helicopter’s production in series, is glad about the end of the two-year validation of Ansat’s certificate.

“The Chinese market is much bigger than Russia, even considering the EAEU,” Minister of Industry and Trade of Russia Denis Manturov commented on the deal. “This is why it is an important potential market for us, we can talk about hundreds of helicopters, but pre-sale service conditions need to be created first, this is what we are doing now at the same time. As time goes by, we will have more opportunities and chances of supplying the machinery because a helicopter price is very competitive.”

The exact price of Ansat’s pilot lot isn’t indicated, but experts suppose that it can be sold at a promo price of millions of dollars per machine. The aircraft will be supplied during the year.

“We are ready to start supplies this year already, and I am sure that the service experience of Ansat in China will give a positive impulse to promote the helicopter in other countries of the region, which also express interest in this modern and reliable aircraft,” Director General of Russian Helicopters holding Andrey Boginsky claimed.

Ansat participated in a demo tour of Russian Helicopters in Southeast Asia in November-December 2018. The helicopter covered over 5,000 kilometres having operated demo flights in China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and Malaysia.

China gets faster due to coronavirus

Helicopter certification in foreign countries usually takes at least three-four years, while China did it quite fast by European standards, sources close to Kazan Helicopters note.

“Certification isn’t performed instantaneously,” Realnoe Vremya’s interlocutor, a representative of the aviation sector explains. “For instance, the term in Canada is three years at best. It isn’t we who set these terms. We hope it would be faster in China, but everything also seemed to be well, and there weren’t problems. Then the Chinese had their own troubles, and the process dragged on. But two years in general is a good term, it is fast.”

The expert assumes that the epidemic of coronavirus affected the acceleration of the validation, which demonstrated how important it was for sanitary services to be always mobile and go to the hotbeds of infection. The newspaper’s sources in the helicopter sector say that China has a big fleet of heavyweight Soviet Мi-8/Мi-17 helicopters, which consume “plenty of fuel”. China’s sanitary services didn’t ask Russia to lease additional helicopters, while Russian aircraft can’t fly there. Two weeks ago Russia provided China with humanitarian aid when the number of victims of the new coronavirus approached 10,000 people. Vice Premier Tatiana Golikova chairing a quick response team preventing the infection from being imported and spread, said that protective masks were supplied as primary help. The lessons of the epidemic were learnt immediately, though “juridical issues” had constantly been arising, the source explained:

“Ansat’s flight characteristics were demonstrated 1,5 years ago. There weren’t serious complaints about the aircraft. But then juridical issues arose. We hope it would be 1-1,5 years earlier because the team of pilots and specialists didn’t have complaints. But then they had juridical issues on the spot, in China.”

The expert assumes that the epidemic of coronavirus affected the acceleration of the validation, which demonstrated how important it was for sanitary services to be always mobile and go to the hotbeds of infection. Photo: Maksim Platonov

Nevertheless, the whole set of documents was ready then, all procedures were strictly met, there weren’t any favours. Generally speaking, certification terms are set by two factors — the volume of work and load of certification centres, the expert explained:

“If there is an interested company that is going to sign or already signed contracts with you, you are at the front of the queue. And if you are in the usual line, this can last for 4 or even 5 years. Ansat in China became the first Russian machine to be certified quite fast.”

According to him, if the contract is signed, the production of helicopters should already be launched, and it means supplies will be made very soon. “And if the fact of obtaining the certificate means that the contract was signed, it will take much time, up to a year,” he supposes.

However, the Russian Aviation Agency explained the fast term saying that the order of approval of generic design was simplified. “The exchange ceremony of Implementation Procedures Russian-Chinese Intergovernmental Agreement on Air Safety (BASA), which allow creating conditions for simplified approval of generic design of Russian aviation machinery exported to the PRC, signed between the Russian Aviation Agency and CAAC took place in the presence of President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin and Chairman of the PRC Xi Jinping,” the press service of the Russian Aviation Agency said.

“It is hard for me to say why the consideration of this issue in the PRC allegedly accelerated,” says Executive Director AviaPort sectoral agency Oleg Panteleyev says. “We can only say that Kazan Helicopters has production capacities significantly exceeding the demand for Ansat helicopters mentioned in the contract by the Chinese side. The labour intensity of helicopter production is lower than that of Mi-8, the current load of Kazan Helicopters is moderate, Ansat’s assembly is well arranged. The situation is simple, up and make.”
By Luiza Ignatyeva
Tatarstan