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Ku-Band Satellite Connectivity Added to Ansat Helicopters

Ansat helicopters in Russia have been fitted with in-flight satellite connectivity. The regulatory clearance for the in-flight operations was awarded the Mku30 system from the Kazan Helicopters, which is an affiliate of the Rostec State Corporation. Through the Yamal Ku-band satellite connectivity, the Mku30 solution will be able to offer up to 2 Mbit/s. The Yamal network is responsible for Russia’s widespread coverage and its surrounding regions, including Europe and a considerable African portion. The network also covers the south pacific and the northern parts of Australia.

Though the speed of connection is not high for Ku-band connection, the service is hindered by the antenna system’s size and location on the aircraft. When the antenna is placed on the aircraft’s side, just below the blades, interference is faced, and there is also the problem of reducing the size of the antenna to fit the aircraft’s profile.

Rostec is optimistic that models of the Ansat will be equipped for use by the public though for now, they are targeting the VIP configuration market where passengers will be willing to spend on the connectivity while on board. The company is optimistic that the medevac settings or the law discipline sectors will benefit significantly from the use of the connectivity. This is because the system is designed to help discerning passengers, doctors, police, those working in areas dealing with emergencies, among others, as it is designed to stay online and get operational information.

However, this is not the first attempt for a Russian firm to provide a home-developed inflight connectivity solution as Aeroflot had announced its plans to act as the pilot client for joint operation by SES and Sputnik Telecommunication Entertainment Company (STECCOM) back in 2018.  Though the deal was set to fit aircraft fitted at the beginning of the year and was meant to roll out by mid-2018 and see the A320 fleet online by 2019, it did not happen through the carrier has the STECCOM system online on its initial A350 planes.

“At the customer’s request, the satellite communication program will be mounted in the Ansat helicopters. For passenger as well as VIP adjustments of the aircraft, that choice will be most important.”  Aleksey Belykh, who works as the Managing Director of Kazan Helicopter Factory, noted that the ability to utilize the Internet between flights is yet another step in providing world-class luxury for Ansat helicopters. An enhanced Ansat-M helicopter took off on 29 December 2020 with an expanded flight range of close to 800 km with an added fuel tank. Improved track safety, new avionics as well as modernized heating and the ventilation system have been incorporated in the revised version of the aircraft. The aircraft will be fitted with a 3-channel autopilot in 2021.

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