January 30, 2013 Prague (source E15): The largest Czech aerospace company in state hands LOM PRAHA offers to U.S. Armed Forces progressive modernization and repair programs for dozens of Russian Mi-series helicopters. The enterprise is the only one from the countries of the former Warsaw Pact that has all necessary certificates from the original manufacturer and according to its CEO Roman Planicka, LOM has the full support from Moscow. The contract has a potential of billions of crowns. "We are currently working very well with the American side. The U.S. Army manages quite a significant fleet of Russian transport helicopters Mi and thus also covers the cost of their overhauls and modernizations, "said Planička to E15. He added that the situation on the market of transport helicopters is now developing rapidly and LOM has been consolidating its leading position in Europe in the last year.
According to Planicka LOM status is unique because in addition to the required documentation for the repairs and modernizations of Mi, Czech Republic is a member of NATO and the European Union. This is the main reason why LOM gets orders from the U.S. much easier than Russian companies. "For them it's, for political and other reasons, very difficult. On the contrary, our company can directly sign contracts with the U.S. for the repairs and modernizations, and in the area of training as well. Specifically, I am referring to our training center in Pardubice, "Planička added. Mi helicopters are flying under U.S. Army colors in several countries from the South American continent to the Middle East. This works in practice that when the U.S. decide to support whichever state they do not provide him U.S. helicopters for example, Black Hawks, but Soviet machines proven since 1965, when they began to be operated by the former Soviet Army, in hundreds, not only military, but humanitarian missions too. Besides the U.S. LOM negotiates with other potential customers who use Mi helicopters. It is for example India, where dozens of these machines flies too.
Since the new management is at the wheel the state enterprise has been doing significantly better than in 2010 and 2011, when there was a real risk that the company would not be able to pay less than a thousand of its employees. After a period of losses, that reached tens of millions of crowns every year, the economic result from the last year will be in the black. "We expect a profit of CZK 23 million," said LOM CEO. In addition, the company has already signed contracts covering more than 63 percent of this year total sales. Following more than 26 percent of other business cases are before signing. Planned profit of the company for this year shall exceed CZK 35 million.
LOM further plans
Earlier thought that LOM PRAHA could become a multinational aviation training center within NATO, is still alive. Evidenced is the agreement from the last NATO summit in Chicago. Now is necessary to determine how each Member State will contribute to this project. The leader remains the Czech Republic. The basic concept is to use skills, experience and capabilities of LOM. Partners from NATO are to provide some part of the activities that need to be secured in name of the center. For example, it could be an advanced training in the mountains, where Croatia could offer its capabilities. It is similar to the training above sea level, which is another area of special need due to flying at low altitudes above the surface, which cannot be trained in the Czech Republic. In Chicago, it was agreed that NATO members will not create their own isolated helicopter capacities, but will affiliate and each will contribute with something. Of course there will be uniform procedures and training manuals.
Legend as the Kalashnikov
Helicopters Mi-8 (export designation Mi-17, the latest version the Mi-171Sh) that are spread around the world take rank with the legendary assault rifle AK-47 Kalashnikov. Their good flight characteristics, durable construction, easy maintenance, variability and affordable price make them historically the most popular helicopter. Yet have been manufactured in more than 12,000. For civil and military purposes are used in more than fifty countries. Besides the transportation of people and material they can be deployed, after installation of special frame, which serves as a carrier of rockets or bombs, as a combat machine. Prototype marked as V-8 first flew on 9th June 1961. The path to mass production, however, was difficult, lasted over four years. The management of the former Communist Party of the USSR delayed its entrance and sent a chief engineer Mikhail Mil to the U.S. to compare his approach with U.S. helicopters. Against stood even the Soviet army which refused the "eight" among their armament. The situation changed after the triumph at the French aerospace salon Le Bourget in 1965. Modernization projects of Mi machines include lightening, fittings with more powerful engines and Western electronics in NATO countries. Version Mi-171Sh, used by the Czech Army in Afghanistan, was constructed in 1995. Original manufacturer is based in the capital city of Ulan Ude Buryatia, situated near Lake Baikal.
"Eight" in the data
maximum speed: 250 km / h
range: 500 km
ceiling: 4,500 m
crew: two pilots, one mechanic
capacity: up to 25 persons
airframe length: 18.22 m
height: 4.75 m
rotor diamete: 21.3 meters
weight: 7,055 kg
maximum take-off weight: 13,000 kg