In-flight satellite connectivity is now available on Ansat helicopters in Russia. The Mku30 system from Kazan Helicopters, a subsidiary of the Rostec State Corporation, received regulatory approval for in-flight operations.
The satellite communication system will be installed in the Ansat helicopter at the request of the customer. It will be most relevant for passenger and VIP modifications of the helicopter. The ability to use the Internet during flights is another step towards improving the comfort level of Ansat helicopters.– Managing Director of Kazan Helicopters, Alexey Belykh
The Mku30 solution offers up to 2 Mbit/s via the Yamal Ku-band satellite network. The Yamal network offers comprehensive coverage of Russia as well as significant services across other geographies. Europe is covered as are large portions of Africa. The network also includes coverage in the South Pacific, to the north of Australia. Given that Yamal is backed by Russia’s Gazprom this makes sense. That region offers significant oil extraction opportunities.
The total speed is relatively low for a Ku-band connection, but the service is limited by the size and placement of the antenna system on the aircraft. Mounted on the side of the body and below the blades, there are interference challenges as well as a need to stay small to fit the overall aircraft profile.
While the primary target market is VIP configurations where the passengers are willing to pay for the connectivity on board Rostec also eventually hopes that public service versions of the Ansat will be fitted. The company believes that medevac configurations or law enforcement could benefit from the connectivity with the system “useful for both discerning passengers, as well as doctors, police, employees of the Ministry of Emergency Situations, who will be able to stay online to receive operational information.”
This is not the first effort by Russian companies to deliver a home-grown inflight connectivity solution. Aeroflot announced plans in 2018 to serve as the pilot customer for a cooperative effort between SES and Sputnik Telecommunications Entertainment Company (STECCOM). The deal saw aircraft fitted early in the year and planned to go live by mid-2018 with the carrier’s full A320 family fleet online by 2019.
That did not come to pass, though the carrier does have the STECCOM system online on its first A350 delivery. Presumably it will also fly on future A350 deliveries. And maybe even eventually expand to the A320 fleet as promised.
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