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The MAKS air show has proved to be a significant driver of business for the Skolkovo Foundation, which has overseen deals for several resident companies and announced the completion of construction of a Boeing pilot training facility at the Innovation Center.
Aerob CEO Andrei Mamontov looks to the company's innovative future at MAKS. Photo: sk.ru
Unmanned aerial vehicles were the stars of the Skolkovo stand at the event, one of the world’s biggest aviation shows that runs August 25-30 at the Zhukovsky air base to the east of Moscow.
“This year in our exposition at MAKS, we have put the accent on pilotless drones,” said Alexei Belyakov, Skolkovo VP and executive director of the Space and Telecommunications Technologies Cluster.
“At the Skolkovo exposition [pavilion C1, stand 27], we have three companies that research pilotless aerial vehicles: Aerob, UVS-YURION, and Aerokso. And one of them [Aerob] is exhibiting simultaneously at our stand and the pavilion of one of its partners – Russian Helicopters corporation,” he added.
“And it’s important to note one detail of 2015: At this air and space show absolutely all drones are functional,” Belyakov said, referring to the completed cycle of their development.
A flurry of business activity on the first three days of the air show, which are devoted to B2B dealings and closed to the general public saw Aerob, a leading resident of the space cluster, sign a cooperation agreement with the research arm of Russian Helicopters, RH Technologies, to jointly develop UAVs.
The Skolkovo stand at MAKS-2015. Photo: sk.ru.
“Among the priorities of this innovative company [RH Technologies] is to find new technological solutions in the field of pilot preparation and training, creating parts and fittings based on new materials like composite ones, and also to adopt new pilotless technologies,” noted Andrei Mamontov, Aerob CEO and one of the most active members of the Skolkovo ecosystem.
“And our task here is precisely to support and develop innovations surrounding pilotless rotary-wing aviation, including tilt rotor-wing aircraft.”
Aerob specializes in onboard equipment and flight systems for UAVs such as controllers for the operative conditions of the aircraft during flight and instruments for on-the-ground control of UAVs.
The startup will assist Russian Helicopters with onboard systems, Mamontov said.
“We will focus on the integration of our solutions with the helicopters, with rotary-wing aircraft, and, further down the line, possibly with airplane-style UAVs too,” he added.
Aerokso at the Skolkovo stand. Photo: sk.ru
Another of Skolkovo’s residents at the air show, Aerokso, noted its aim at the air show was to showcase its tilt-rotor drone to potential clients.
“This year, our company has brought along to the air show an Era-101 tilt-rotor aircraft from the actual production line,” said Eldar Razroev, in comments to sk.ru.
Aerokso is hoping to gain business from infrastructure companies that need the drones to monitor difficult-to-access facilities such as gas pipelines or rail infrastructure. Razroev is confident that potential clients will be impressed by the aircraft’s “helicopter takeoff” and near-airplane cruising speed of the drone.
While the drone residents were wooing customers, the space cluster and the Skolkovo Foundation were making new connections of their own.
The space cluster, led by Belyakov, held a series of meetings with the likes of Information Satellite Systems, Russian Space Systems, Russian Helicopters and others. Among the throngs of visitors to the Skolkovo stand was Yury Mikhailov, the chairman of the science and technology council at the Presidential Military-Industrial Commission of the Russian Federation. Mikhailov had accompanied President Vladimir Putin on day one of the air show.
Meanwhile, Skolkovo, Boeing and TAV announced the completion of construction of a training center at the Skolkovo Innovation Center for pilots of Boeing aircraft.
The Aviation Training Center is being created to allow qualified pilots to hone their skills and retrain on updated aircraft systems, and will not train any pilots from scratch.
“Our main mission at Skolkovo is to train pilots on new aircraft and conducting planned annual [recurrent] training,” said Mikhail Yanchishin, Boeing Russia’s development director.
“We hope the first pilots who gain new qualifications at Skolkovo will return to their respective airlines by the start of next year,” he added.
From left: Belyakov, Yanchishin and Smirnov make the Boeing announcement. Photo: sk.ru
The simulators that the pilots will have access to at Skolkovo are identical to those installed at Boeing’s training locations around the world, Yanchishin said.
“This is precisely what we are stressing to our customers: This [the facilities] will be absolutely of the same quality that they can get, for instance, at our training center in Miami. It’s just that now Russian pilots can acquire these skills without going anywhere, without extra travel costs and so on,” he said.
Yanchishin expanded upon the facilities available at Skolkovo.
“We will be using three simulators: Two of them are produced by industry leaders, while the third, which meets Boeing’s quality and functional demands entirely, is made by TAV. The center’s main clients will be the leaders of the Russian aviation sector. Our doors are also open for regional companies using 737s and 777s,” he said.
One of the flight simulators that will be deployed at the Boeing facility. Photo: sk.ru.
Summing up the functions of the training center, TAV general director Vadim Smirnov noted: “Together with Boeing, we and our engineers will not only be training pilots, but also engaging in scientific-technical work and developing the business.”
“Skolkovo is a great place for that. For us, this is a strategic project and global recognition. Our simulators are already certified in accordance with European and American markets, so for us this is recognition on a global level.
Skolkovo had a total of 12 resident startups on display at MAKS.
The Space and Telecommunications Technologies Cluster aims to create an ecosystem of private space entrepreneurship in Russia. It selects incubates and supports innovative companies in the field of space technology, space applications, telecommunications and aviation technology, including UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles). The cluster is actively collaborating with key players in the aerospace industry such as Airbus, Boeing, Roscosmos, OAK, ODK, Rostec and RTI.
The main objective of MAKS is to demonstrate achievements of Russian high tech and receptiveness of the domestic Russian market to joint projects with foreign partners.
Scientific conferences and round tables held under the auspices of the State Scientific Center of Russia – TsAGI (the Central Aerohydrodynamic Institute) constitute a significant part of the MAKS program. This is where scientists and experts can exchange opinions about most heated topics of the current and future development of the aviation and space industries.