Take-off Magazine : Ka-62 kicks off trials Development of electronic devices

Ka-62 kicks off trials

_The advanced Kamov Ka-62 medium multirole helicopter started its flight tests in the town of Arsenyev, Primorsky Territory in the Ruissia's Far East, on 28 April 2016. The Kamov design bureau has developed the machine, which manufacture has been handled by the Progress company (both Kamov and Progress are subsidiaries of Russian Helicopters holding company). On 28 April, a Kamov crew of pilot-in-command Vitaly Lebedev and co-pilot Nail Azin took the Ka-62's first flying prototype OP-1 for its first hover with minor movement in all planes and limited pitch, yaw and longitudinal manoeuvring. At the HeliRussia 2016 show, Take-off had an opportunity to talk with the helicopter's chief designer, Alexander Vagin, who offered details on the ongoing flight test programme.

According to Alexander Vagin, Ka-62 OP-1's first hover kicked off the preliminary flight test phase preceding the manufacturer's flight test phase. Based on the outcome of the trials, including several hovers with minor axis-wise movement and limited manoeuvring, tests on the Iron Bird bench in Kumertau and other ground-based tests, the Methodology Council of the Gromov LII Flight Research Institute will decide on the feasibility of the first circuit flight that will be the first of manufacturer's flight tests. Initially, the latter will be conducted in Arsenyev and then may be performed at Russian Helicopters and Kamov's facility in the Moscow Region.

Presumably, the factory flight tests will comprise 122 sorties designed to test all of the helicopter's systems under various conditions and to gauge its basic characteristics. Then, the certification phase will commence. It is to include 450 sorties by three flying prototypes.

The second Ka-62 flying prototype (OP-2) is to join the trials by this autumn. Its assembly is nearing completion at Progress. The third flying prototype, OP-3, is due to follow suit in early 2017, with its fuselage being almost complete.

The Ka-62's full-scale ground tests began in 2015. They involved the Iron Bird test rig - essentially, a Ka-62 airframe fitted with the organic powerplant, power train, rotor system, tail rotor and other equipment - and static-test prototype. The Iron Bird is being tested at a special facility in Kumertau, Bashkortostan. Aviatest company in Riga is performing the static tests of the airframe, using the Ka-62 with factory number 0102 exhibited in the static display area of the MAKS 2013 air show in August 2013. As is known, Russian Helicopters announced then that the Ka-62 would start its flight trials before year-end 2013. However, the numerous cutting-edge solutions being implemented in cooperation with numerous West European partners have adjusted the plans.

Russian Helicopters' key foreign partners under the Ka-62 programme are Safran Helicopter Engines (known as Turbomeca before May 2016) - the manufacturer and supplier of the 1,780-hp Ardiden 3G turboshaft engine (1,940 hp for 2.5 min. at the emergency rating with one of the engines down), Austria's Zoerkler - the manufacturer of the main and intermediate gearboxes and power train units, and France's Aerazur Zodiac responsible for the fuel system.

The Technologies for Aviation joint stock company (TAV) - a subsidiary of the Kronstadt group - is the developer of the Ka-62's KBO-62 avionics suite. A KBO-62 demo example - the glass cockpit - was displayed at HeliRussia 2016. It is designed for a two-man crew to fly VFR and IFR round the clock in various climates and types of terrain on airways and regional services and outside of them as well. The avionics suite meets the AP-29 and FAR-29 flight rules applicable to the avionics of Category A helicopters.

The KBO-62 is wrapped around flight and navigation displays including a digital moving map, a redundant navigation system, an airborne systems/engine diagnostics system, communication radios, radio navigation aids and an automatic control system. The suite includes two TDS-84 8.4-inch 1,024x768-pixel LCDs for navigation, engine and airborne equipment information; two TDS-12 12.1-inch 1,024x768-pixel flight displays; two MFPU-1 multifunction control consoles with a 5-inch LCD and a keyboard; VTs-3 digital computers with a RISC processor for navigation calculations and integrated data processing; SAU-62 automatic control system for automatic route flying and landing approach, comprising the hover automatic controller; TTA-12N terrain avoidance and warning system including a terrain and cultural features database; and TDC-17 controllers with heading and course selectors.

What is important is that the KBO-62 is commonised heavily with another helicopter integrated avionics suite from Kronstadt - the IBKO-38 designed for the advanced Mil Mi-38 helicopter certificated in December 2015. Part of the suite was improved due to the Ka-62's smaller cockpit and tougher standards applied to exposure factors, which required extra tests.

According to Vadim Smirnov, chief of Kronstadt's aviation equipment division, the company has made, tested and supplied three KBO-62 sets to Kamov to fit Ka-62 prototypes.

Since the Ka-62 has prompted interest of not only commercial buyers but governmental agencies as well, e.g. the Russian Defence Ministry, a version made of Russian components and systems only is planned. Under the Russian government's directive dated 30 September 2014, Industry and Trade Minister Denis Manturov approved the Russian Federation Commercial Aircraft Production Import Substitution Plan (see the ministry's website) on 31 March 2015. As applied to the Ka-62 programme, the plan stipulates the development of a Russian variant of the powertrain by 2017, fuel system by 2018 and engine by 2022 as well as the DC generator system, engine air particle separator, extra fuel cells, etc.

Russian Helicopters Deputy Director for Production Andrei Shibitov said in May last year that "given the political nuances, we are actively looking into the feasibility of maximising the customisation and localisation of the foreign made hardware used in the helicopter now", which is "important because we are going to offer the Ka-62 to governmental agencies as well". According to Mr Shibitov, Kamov has been developing the fuel system to fit the Ka-62, and a powertrain production programme has been launched, with the first prototype powertrain expected as far back as last year. Andrei Shibitov also said that Russian Helicopters and Klimov company were in talks about the development of a Russian engine to power the Ka-62. The Technodinamika corporation unveiled its crash-resistant fuel system for the Kamov Ka-226T helicopter at HeliRussia 2016. A similar system will be offered to equip other up-to-date Russian helicopters as well. Technodinamika is a subcontractor under the Ka-62 programme, responsible for the landing gear and DC generator systems.

The Ka-62 has the classic single-rotor design uncharacteristic of Kamov and comprising the five-blade main rotor and shrouded tail rotor. The aircraft has a maximum takeoff weight of 6,500 kg and is designed to carry 15 passengers or 2,200 kg of cargo (2,500 kg on the external sling) at a cruising speed of 290 km/h (max speed - 310 km/h) out to 720 km. In addition, provision has been made for the Ka-62 to operate in the search-and-rescue, medevac, patrol, trainer and other roles.

"The advanced Ka-62 helicopter will be a worthy addition to the commercial versions of the venerable and world's most popular Mi-8/17 helicopters, filling the very relevant niche in the class of helicopters with a takeoff weight of 6-7 tonnes," Russian Helicopters Director General Alexander Mikheyev said, calling the beginning of the Ka-62's flight tests "very significant to the corporation, a natural result of our work."

(Photo: Kamov)

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