Helicopter industry looking to take off

The Heli-Russia annual helicopter exhibition was recently held in Moscow, bringing together industry players. Record participation figures suggest the industry is finding its feet.

Russia's helicopter industry has been an illustrious one – dating back to the Soviet era. It even boasts the largest helicopter in the world – the MI-26.  But aging equipment, outdated aerospace systems and, of course, the crisis have all taken their toll on a once booming industry.  Despite these problems, analysts are generally upbeat about Russia's prospects according to Charles Park Marketing Analysis director at Honeywell Aerospace.

"The real opportunity in Russia is to replace some of the aging equipment, upgrade some of the other equipment that’s in the fleet today and of course it does seem to be a growing outlet for Western made aircraft as well."

In combating this increase in foreign made choppers, Russian companies have been forced to step up their innovation.

Russian Helicopters, for example, recently released a modified version of its popular MI-34 model – and claims it incorporates unique specifications, which can compete with its foreign counterparts.

But a more long-term problem Russia lies in its soviet era air traffic system according to Dmitry Rodin, the "MI-34" Project Director at Russian Helicopters

“The more liberal the law we have the more helicopters will be sold, its obvious and we of course hope for the liberalizing of the law and we are sure that it will take place – there is no other way. There is no choice, to liberalize or not to liberalize. The only choice is at what time the officials will do it.”

With the Russian helicopter industry showing signs of recovery and subsequent growth, Russian companies are increasingly creating models capable of competing even on the international arena. However, a sticking point still remains – with the liberalization of Russia’s Aerospace. And until that happens, the easiest way to fly a helicopter privately without restrictions – is still via remote control.