Eurocopter has delivered the first of 20 Ecureuil family helicopters contracted last autumn by Russiaâ€™s UTair Aviation in the largest acquisition of its kind for the Russian and CIS market in the lightweight helicopter segment.
Zhukovsky Airfield, Russia, MAKS 2011 air show, 16 August 2011
The initial helicopter provided in this order â€“ which was signed with the Eurocopter Vostok subsidiary â€“ is a single-engine AS350 B3. It is to be followed by deliveries of the enhanced AS350 B3e version, for which UTair is the launch customer in Russia, along with the twin-engine Ecureuil AS355 NP variant.
â€œUTair Aviation is actively involved in a wide range of helicopter operations including humanitarian missions for the U.N., charter flights to distant ant hardly accessible regions, surveillance and monitoring flights for oil and gas industry. Ecureuil helicopter has a proven track record carrying out such missions, and we are happy to expand our fleet with this high performance machine; we believe that the AS350 B3 will be very helpful in our job and will make it even more efficientâ€, said UTair Aviation General Director Andrey Martirosov.
The new helicopters are to be used for passenger transportation, oil and gas pipeline patrol missions, medical flights, and in external load cargo deliveries. They will join UTair Aviationâ€™s existing Eurocopter-built inventory of AS350 B3, AS355 N and EC130 B4 rotary-wing aircraft, which have been operated by the company since 2006, along with the BO105. Additionally, UTair Aviation is a launch customer for Eurocopterâ€™s new EC175, signing a firm contract earlier this year for 15 of the medium twin-engine helicopters.
â€œOur latest Ecureuil deliveries to UTair mark another milestone in Eurocopterâ€™s relationship with this strategic customer as we work in partnership to further evolve its operational capabilities and develop the business base,â€ explained Eurocopter Vostok CEO Laurence Rigolini. â€œIn the framework of this cooperation, a training academy and a certified maintenance center are being created at UTairâ€™s engineering facility in Tyumen â€“ which is fully aligned with Eurocopterâ€™s commitment to the safety and support of our customers around the globe.â€
Eurocopterâ€™s AS350 B3 is a high-performance, light single-engine helicopter adapted for extreme operating conditions, including at very high altitudes, and has the capability to transport heavy loads. The enhanced AS350 B3e version features an improved engine and new interior design, along with tail rotor modifications for additional ease of piloting.
The cost-effective AS355 NP is a versatile lightweight twin-engine helicopter with a proven design for utility work, public service and passenger transport missions. It provides high standards in Category A operations, with excellent performance and new equipment such as the Vehicle and Engine Multifunction Display (VEMD).
Source and photo: Eurocopter