Author`s name Michael Simpson

Any Chances of Missing Helicopters to be Found in Russia?

Unfortunately, search and rescue devices of Russian helicopters and planes are in poor repair
On August 20, another after the catastrophe that claimed the life of Krasnoyarsk Governor General Alexander Lebed tragic accident occurred to the Sakhalin Governor and the Russian aviation. A Mi-8 helicopter with Sakhalin Governor Igor Farhutdinov and other passengers on board was lost on August 20.

It may sound strange in the age when computers and telephones are installed everywhere but Russia's rescue and recovery service is experiencing a deep crisis. To begin with it's necessary to mention that the Mi-8 helicopter with the Sakhalin governor on board followed the route observing the visual flight guidance. In other words, each time it passed some marks it informed the surface stations of it.
Second, the radiolocation area in the Far East and all over Russia guarantees control over low-flying objects only in few regions because the radio-locators operate in the metric, decimetric and centimetric ranges. In other words, they can track objects within direct visibility: the lower and further a helicopter, the less is the distance at which it can be detected.

So, it is not ruled out that the Mi-8 helicopter could not be detected by radars in that area where it was lost. Unfortunately, the helicopter isn't equipped with short-range navigation appliances, an onboard locator for detection of obstacles that would allow the machine to pass them by. The nature conditions of Russia's Far East are such that early in the morning (the helicopter was lost at about 6 a.m. local time) the areas close to the Pacific Ocean coast are wrapped in fog. Mi-8 helicopters are equipped with VHF and short-wave radio stations. While a VHF-range station functions according to the direct visibility principle and the range of its action depends upon the cruising altitude, the short-wave station of the helicopter was to have snapped into action. This fact suggests rather sad thoughts concerning the fate of the helicopter passengers.

It is said that a search and rescue communicator of a Komar type must have been on board the helicopter. If necessary the communicator emits special signals that can be intercepted by planes and helicopters searching for a missing object. The rescue team then uses the signals to find the area where the object is lost. However, it is known for sure that in most cases batteries of such communicators are outdates and operate badly. As for the helicopter that the Sakhalin governor uses, it is not clear whether the search and rescue communicator was in good repair or not. Unfortunately, there are just few Russian helicopters and planes that are equipped with the KOSPAS-SAPSAT device meant for sending distress signals and operate through special satellites. One more problem is that mobile phones do not work in the Far Eastern taiga. So, unfortunately the searches for the Mi-8 helicopter missed on August 20 can last for several days.

Yury Karnovsky