In my previous article, I have already discussed the operations of Russian “Ansat” helicopters in medical aviation service. A year after, the number of “Ansat” helicopters operated by Russian airlines has increased, new helicopters became operational.
In general, aside from a few experimental and demonstrator airframes, Russian light helicopter “Ansat” developed by Kazan Helicopter Plant’s in-house design bureau is primarily used in civil service as a medical aviation (HEMS) helicopter, as well as a passenger aircraft, in particular for “very important persons”.
Russian light helicopter “Ansat” (which may be translated from Tatar as “simple”) was created in the Kazan Helicopter Plant’s in-house design bureau. One of the current serial production models is also sometimes referred to as “Ansat-GMSU” meaning an “Ansat” with a hydromechanical control system, unlike the version with a fly-by-wire (FBW) control system which was originally suggested but was not certified.
Notably, the “Ansat” has become the first Russian serially produced helicopter (unlike the Soviet Mi-34 which was only built in very small numbers) using a skid landing gear. Such landing gear arrangement is common among Western helicopter designs but it was almost never used in Russian helicopter design before the “Ansat”. Still, unlike civil service airframes, the Russian Air Force has chosen the “Ansat” (mainly as a trainer, also referred to as “Ansat-U”) with a non-retractable wheel landing gear, as shown below…
Despite the present uneasy times, Russian aerospace industry has recently built a notable number of “Ansat” airframes. Now this helicopter gradually fills in the niche which was neglected by the Soviet and Russian helicopter industry after the venerable Mi-2.
Aside from a few airframes in “VIP interior” configuration, civil “Ansat” has proven itself first of all as a HEMS helicopter for those regions of Russia where destinations typically lie not farther than a 1.5-2 hours’ flight away from the base. Longer flights as well as more complicated weather and geographical conditions are normally dealt with by Mi-8 helicopters which (mostly in AMT and MTV-1 models) are now also built for civil service by Ulan-Ude and Kazan plants, respectively.
National Medical Aviation Service (NSSA), which has become the first Russian public and private partnership based HEMS service, continues to operate “Ansat” helicopters in various Russian regions, in particular in St. Petersburg, Moscow Region, Veliky Novgorod, Tver, Yekaterinburg.
Besides, the NSSA, “Ansat” helicopters are also operated in HEMS role by other airlines, such as SKOL, VyatkaAvia, Russian Helicopter Systems (RVS).
There is a notable tendency that increasing numbers of civil Russian helicopters are supplied to their operators in all-white livery, and many of them enter service with such “sophisticated” color scheme, some only getting inconspicuous titles or, as in this case, a red cross to show the HEMS role of the helicopter.
To sum it up, it should be noted that serial production of “Ansat” helicopters continues, with new aircraft entering service in Russia primarily as HEMS helicopters.
Late 2020 – early 2021 saw first flights of an improved model of the light helicopter from Kazan, referred to as “Ansat-M”. Planned improvements include larger fuel tanks, which would increase the operational range. Doing this is vital, judging by the experience of “Ansat” operations. Avionics and electronics are also planned to be upgraded. Visually the “Ansat-M” is notably distinguished from current production versions by an updated tail section.
Hopefully, the light helicopter from Kazan will see many years of flight, airframe upgrades and better organized operations in her critically important role as a HEMS helicopter. And, certainly, I hope to catch many more new aircraft in new colors and from new perspectives with my camera.
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