03.01.2014 Ka-32A11BC rescues passengers from Akademik Shokalskiy ship trapped in Antarctic sea ice

03.01.2014 Ka-32A11BC rescues passengers from Akademik Shokalskiy ship trapped in Antarctic sea ice

Russian-built helicopters including the Ka-32 and Mi-8/17 series are operated intensively in both the Arctic and Antarctic, flying from both land- and ship-based platforms to supply polar stations, to transport cargo and passengers, and for search-and-rescue missions. In remote locations with harsh climatic conditions, helicopters are the quickest and most efficient means of transport. Ka-32 and Mi-8/17 series helicopters can operate down to temperatures of minus 50 degrees Celsius, can be stored outdoors and have earned a reputation for reliability, efficiency and safety.

Two icebreakers – the Chinese Xue Long and Australian Aurora Australis – had attempted unsuccessfully to reach the Akademik Shokalskiy, after which it was decided to evacuate the passengers. A Ka-32A11BC operated by the Chinese State Oceanic Administration and based on the Xue Long was despatched to their aid.

The Ka-32A11BC made five flights to evacuate groups of passengers, and made two additional trips to retrieve their luggage and equipment from the expedition to the Aurora Australis. In total 52 people were evacuated, including tourists and scientists, in an operation lasting about four and a half hours. A crew of 22 remained on board the Akademik Shokalskiy, with enough provisions to see out the ship's remaining time trapped in the ice.

The medium multirole Ka-32A11BC was designed by the legendary Kamov Design Bureau, a Russian Helicopters company, and is in serial production at Kumertau Aviation Production Enterprise. It can be deployed to fly special search-and-rescue missions and assist in construction work, as well as cargo-carrying inside the cabin or on an external sling, logging, evacuation of sick and wounded persons, and routine patrolling and special-forces operations.

The Ka-32A11BC developed from naval Ka-27PS, and has inherited the finest characteristics of its predecessor. It can operate efficiently in low temperatures and high humidity, and is highly resistant to the aggressive effects of naval environment. The Ka-32A11BC's capabilities allow it to fly missions in highly turbulent conditions and storm-force winds, while its coaxial rotors provide high-precision hovering and manoeuvrability and the ability to land in small spaces, which is particularly important as a ship-based helicopter. It can fly search-and rescue missions in critical situations, and is an acknowledged leader in its class. Today the Ka-32A11BC operates successfully in more than 30 countries.

Roman Kirillov

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