Dubai Airshow hosts the international debut of Russian Helicopter’s Ka-226T

By EDR On-Line editorial team

Fresh from its maiden flight that took place on 10 November, the widely modernised Russian Helicopters’ Ka-226T multipurpose helicopter is being exhibited for the first time outside Russia at the Dubai Airshow.

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The “T” model is in fact a redesigned aircraft, and it is the first Russian helicopter entirely designed using digital tools, hence all its documentation is paper-free and allowed to reduce the time leading to test flights, according to the company. The new fuselage has a better aerodynamic shape and is manufactured using lightweight materials. Most dynamic components are also new, including the gearbox, the rotor mast and the blades. The helicopter architecture remains that typical of the Kamov Design Bureau, with 13.24 meters diameter counter-rotating coaxial rotors, which avoid the need of a tail rotor, hence reducing the helicopter footprint. Initially developed to cope with limited landing surfaces such as those of ships’ flight decks, most “Ka” choppers have been adopted by then Soviet and now Russian Navy, the coaxial architecture proved to also ensure good performances in terms of controllability in rarefied air, capacity to withstand strong crosswinds, rate of climb, and take-off and landing at high altitudes. It thus does not comes as a surprise that the Ka-226T is able to operate up to 6,500 meters altitude, hence the nickname “Climber” assigned to it. Hovering ceiling is 4,900 meters IGE (In Ground Effect) and 4,100 meters OGE (Out of Ground Effect), however it can hover at up to 6,000 meters altitude with a weight of 2,800 kg and at +20°C.

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The Ka-226T is powered by two Arrius 2G1 turbines provided by Safran Helicopter Engines of France; equipped with a Full Authority Digital Engine Control system they provide 580 hp each, 705 hp being available for two and a half minutes in case of One Engine Inoperative emergency operation. The Climber has a maximum take-off weight of 3,600 kg and a maximum internal payload of 1,000 kg, maximum external payload being 1,300 kg; it has a crew of one or two members, and can transport up to seven passengers. Maximum range at 190 km/h (103 kts) cruise speed is 560 km, on main fuel tanks; it is to note that the Ka-226T has been fitted with a shock-resistant accident-resistant fuel system that increases safety compared to the original helicopter. Maximum speed of the Climber is 220 km /h (119 kts).

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A distinctive feature of the Ka-226 that remains in the “T” version is modularity; while the pilots’ cabin is integral with the aircraft, the rear cabin is modular, allowing the quick transformation of the helicopter for different missions, Russian Helicopters declaring a module replacement time of two hours. Transport, surveillance, search and rescue, Casevac/Medevac modules are available, providing maximum flexibility, allowing the Climber to be used for different missions such as aerial reconnaissance and targeting, patrol, reconnaissance or Special Forces groups transport, cargo and passengers transport, and medical evacuation.

The KA-226T cockpit is NVG compatible, and the “T” version is fitted with a new set of flight-navigation and radio communication equipment. Optionally the Climber can be fitted with oxygen and heating systems, needed when operating at very high altitudes, and ballonets for flying over water.

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Russian Helicopters is proposing its helicopter on the international market as a dual machine, beside military roles it can be used also for para-military and civilian duties. Its capacity to fly at very high altitudes opens up some obvious markets, such as the Indian one, New Delhi armed forces being engaged in a border struggle with neighbouring Pakistan at 6,000 meters plus altitudes, and rumours about a possible production of the Ka-226T have already been circulated.

According to Russian Helicopters serial production of the upgraded Ka-226T helicopter should start next year at the Ulan-Ude Aviation Plant, in close cooperation with the Kumertau Aviation Production Enterprise.

Photos courtesy Russian Helicopters and EDR On-Line

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