Russian Helicopters has carried out the first test flight of its modernised Ka-32A11M fire-fighting helicopter. Now equipped with new engines, electronic equipment and a fire extinguishing system, the helicopter will undergo a series of preliminary and certification tests.
"The modernisation significantly expands the capabilities of the Ka-32, one of the best fire-fighting helicopters in the world," says general director Andrey Boginsky. "We plan to complete the certification of the Ka-32A11M in 2023. After that, the vehicle, with the latest electronics and fire extinguishing system, will be available for Russian and foreign customers."
The Ka-32 modernisation programme includes equipping it with a glass cockpit with a system of onboard electronic equipment, more powerful VK-2500PS-02 engines and a new fire extinguishing system. The VK-2500PS-02 engines will significantly improve the helicopter's flight characteristics in hot and mountainous conditions where, according to the designers, its carrying capacity can increase by about 1,600 kg.
The technical solutions used in the glass cockpit of the Ka-32A11M helicopter have already been tested on the civil multipurpose Ansat and Mi-38 helicopters and confer additional navigation, optoelectronic and search equipment. It will also be possible to work with night vision goggles.
The new tank on the SP-32 fire extinguishing system holds four tons of water and is divided into four compartments. The patented digitally controlled flap system allows the flaps to be opened either in pairs or alternately, and also allows the flap opening angles to be adjusted, thereby increasing the water discharge time. An operator can automatically collect four tons of water in 60 seconds, as well as add up to 400 litres of a foam agent. The system is also adapted for use with a water cannon. In addition, all SP-32 systems are electrically heated which, for the first time, allows it to be used in winter conditions at temperatures down to -20 degrees Celsius.
The coaxial design of the Ka-32 helicopter provides hover stability even in a crosswind, and the absence of a tail rotor reduces the dimensions of the helicopter making it more manoeuvrable; an advantage when working in mountainous and forest areas, as well as in dense urban areas. Thus the Ka-32 can not only extinguish fires, but also carry out high-precision construction and installation work, carry out sanitary evacuation and search and rescue missions, and transport goods. It is effectively used in conditions of high humidity and is highly resistant to the effects of an aggressive marine environment. It can fly in conditions of increased turbulence and stormy winds.
Serial production takes place at the Kumertau Aviation Production Enterprise.