Hello everyone, sorry for intrusion.
I’m Ignat Solovey, the cameraman and international relations guy of the only Russian video feature about general aviation (NB: not another vlog, we work in different format that is closer to classic TV). We restarted our English production after 2-year hiatus and here are couple of the first issues. These two and three more are about helicopter sports championship and stage of helicopter racing world cup that happened couple of weeks ago, further issues will be about things… well, less expensive than helicopters. Russia has a lot of things that may be of interest to flying crowd out there — aircraft, gear, pilots, GA events, airshows, aviation sports and lots more. I’ll spoil: we even have one (only one!) airfield pet bear and I’ll do a feature on the guy next month. Just in case, that’s mighty exotic even in Russia.
We are non-political, we do believe in common language, friendship and common skies… as much as that’s possible with what politicians do. Please don’t voice what do you think of Mr. Putin/Crimea/Ukraine/Syria to us, we have nothing to do with that and never had (although I had numerous encounters with the president as a news photographer… not the most pleasant experience of my life, I’d say).
I hope you (and forum admins) won’t mind if I’ll update this thread from time to time with new issues… #11, 12 and 13 will be posted in several days, since they are re-edited from Russian versions that we already published two weeks ago, all other will be made later.
If you have questions or ideas for us, I’m open.
It’s better to watch these two videos in sequence, as well as other three that will follow on Saturday, Sunday and Monday.
How is GA in Russia? From what I’ve read (e.g. the guy flying the homebuilt around the world), GA access is still a bit like it was in Soviet times (heavy restrictions on VFR and where you may go etc.) Is this true, or is GA access opening up?
Welcome Ignat to this Forum.Wish you a fruitful career in Russia.When you have time,do send us more info about VFR flying inside Airways or outside,the need for the on board presence of a Russian navigator,which airfields are considered “GA friendly”,which ones have Autogas,100LL,Kerosene and ease of Customs+Immigration services and finaly samples of airport total fees.
The idea of a youtube series about GA in Russia is great! Would really like to fly to Russia some time, probably Kaliningrad as it is pretty close to Sweden and our airclub has been there in the past, however laws have changed since then.
As previously mentioned, it would be of tremendous help if you could create an episode with information of what steps are required from an EU pilot in order to be allowed to fly and land in Russia.
Russia has a lot of things that may be of interest to flying crowd out there
That`s for sure. I would like to explore the vast land by my Cessna. Many already known obstacles are still to be overcome, as for example entry permits, possibility of own navigation, fuel issues, fancy prices for Landing and Handling. To provide help in this matters for foreign pilots via your Flight TV is to me of great interest.
Please don’t voice what do you think of Mr. Putin/Crimea/Ukraine/Syria to us, we have nothing to do with that
This formulation can be read as a dislike of Mr. Putin. Please bear in mind that not all people in Western Europe are against the policies of the Russian government.
Yes, I’m here.
Issue 11. Helisport championship day 3 with the task of navigation.
Issue 12. Quarter finals and semi-finals of the 2nd stage of the 1st Helicopter Racing World Cup
There will be one more helisport issue published tomorrow and then I’ll finish that marathon. Issue 14 should be about matters less expensive and of more public interest than rotorcraft.
Now to your questions.
@alioth General aviation is, of course, in less dreadful state than in Soviet times, although Federal Air Transport Agency (Rosaviatsia), presumably with FSB (ex-KGB) support, does everything to kill the very idea of flying your own airplane (they can do less against helicopter owners and pilots because heli guys are usually very wealthy and, thus, quite influential).
Let’s say that Russian GA develops as an opposition to official actions. A lot of people live guerilla style here: fly without airworthiness certificate because it may cost up to ⅓ of the aircraft cost (for cheaper aircraft, of course). Even more pilots have no PPLs (because certain people in Rosaviatsia hates the idea of private flight schools and not only closed all but three and prevents opening new ones, but just revokes PPLs of CPLs previously issued by the best (and absolutely legal) Chelavia FS.
The thing is: you almost can’t get conventional PPL for anything except helicopter, at least if you want to spend less than five years in military-style educational institution where you’ll get the required paper but little practical skills. Foreign PLs are still recognized, if frowned upon, so some people go to Belarus, EU or the USA for their PPLs and CPLs.
@Dimme you’re not the first one to ask such question, so probably we’ll do it. Don’t expect it very soon, though, but, I hope, by mid-Autumn we’ll manage to do it. You probably would like to hear official stance on that, as well as some tips, so that requires certain effort to squeeze an answer from officials… given that we doesn’t fancy to flash ourselves in front of Mr. Nerad’ko and his subordinates. Anyway, new amphibian 2-seater from Samara and pet airfield bear are earlier on our roster :)
@highflyer @MedFlyer Entry permit and necessity of having “certified local navigator” onboard are probably the biggest. While you may excel in navigation and have all sorts of maps, local ATCs and airfield staff aren’t always quite proficient in English, if at all (zone controllers are ICAO Class IV certified in English, of course, but you’re under their scope). So you need someone local when you’re here anyway, at least to sort out ground problems, if you aren’t proficient in Russian yourself.
If you plan your route in advance (you have to do it anyway, at least officially), I can pass that baton to our community so that everything would be arranged for you… and probably that may be a subject of one or several episodes of Flight TV in English (as well as in Russian, I guess, although our most loyal local audience flies mostly homebuilts and hellish stools called “deltaflyers” — something that’s best described like an open autogyro cab with delta wing that you have to pull — and many of them have somehow rusty ideas about Westerners.
Fuel prices… well, 1–2 Euros for one liter of B-91/115 or 100LL, €0.75 for a liter of good A-95 (Super) and about €0.85 for good A-98 (Super Plus)
Landing and Handling — who told you that? Probably you quoted regular airports, and those you need only twice, on entry and exit (Pskov is reportedly quite reasonable about that), while numerous private airfields are always happy to see guests and don’t change landing and take-off fees. Some do, though, but these charges are either symbolical by aviation standards (under €10 per one take-off) and anyway are one of really few means of survival of air clubs and airfields.
maps.aopa.ru (in Russian) is the best resource that has all airfields of all kinds listed and it is constantly updated. In Russian, of course, but probably Google Translate may help.
Anyway, flying in Russia for foreigners does require certain preparations. Recently 13 German GA airplanes came to Kaliningrad, but that had some official support… and Kaliningrad region is different anyway. We weren’t there because we were busy first in Konakovo, then at MAKS, then near Samara, but, well, even if we had time, we don’t have budget to attend each and every event (frankly speaking, we have very much negative budget, and if you think that we have our own plane — no, we don’t. None of the two of us (out of five) that go everywhere have a car… not even the cheapest camera drone that we really need).
As for politics… well, some things that happen in Russia are better to be enjoyed from a distance. At least in their attitude to general aviation Putin’s officials are far from praiseworthy, and since currently they are in conservative and isolationist phase, they do everything to “make an order” and their methods create rather havoc and vacuum than any nice shapes. See my answer to alioth above. It may be described as “one step forward, two leaps back”.
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Entry permit and necessity of having “certified local navigator” onboard are probably the biggest
OK, let`s say I want to fly from Germany via Poland to Moscow. Would UUEE a suitable airport as a first stop for a GA aircraft? If so, how do I get the entry permit and how much do the appropriate administration charge for? How long does it take to get the entry permit? The russian navigator needs to join the flight from Poland in order to take care that I will find my way to destination, am I right? How do the Airlines solve this problem? How much is the landing charge at UUEE? How about Parking and Handling? Do they have 100LL? 1-2 Euro per liter would be fine. My copilot speaks a little russian, maybe Level 3, that would suffice for the welcome.
Again, flying through Russia would be a dream.
@highflyer No-no-no! UUEE (SVO) is Russia’s busiest airport and they aren’t friendly towards GA at all. They have business Terminal A you can get to on your helicopter or business jet with advance slot booking, but fees are of that scale. €200–500 for L/H, and something like that for daily parking. They may have 100LL for some helicopters, but probably you have to order it in advance at a price premium.
There are minor airfields around that are happy to accept you. So, you fly from Germany to Poland, then to Lithuania and Latvia, then to Pskov-Krestý ULOO. At Pskov you get past border control and customs and then, getting Russian citizen with navigator qualification onboard, you fly SE to Orlóvka UUTO. The closest place you can get to Moscow from that direction is probably Shevlinó ZF28 (ground airstrip, guest houses, café and quite busy life, I know the guys there well, it’s the base of Gliding Sports Federation of Russia).
Flights over Moscow are strictly prohibited for anyone non-military/secret or, since 2015, civil below FL290, no exceptions (until 2015 even civilian transit had to curve around Moscow city proper at any FL). Rescue and MedEvac helicopters have to get special permission by phone. Private helicopter guys sometimes get a permission for zone ATC-controlled flight along MKAD (Moscow Ring Road), fat chance you can get such permit for a plane at all, let alone foreign one with foreign pilot, so the best way for you is to fly around at 50-something kilometers distance, and for Moscow sightseeing you get to the city by ground means. Level 3 Russian with heavy accent would call suspicion, so either you fly guerilla style with transponder off and in complete radio silence (not recommended in certain areas) or with Russian navigator onboard anyway. The further from Moscow, the easier, if you ditch military zones that is sort of easy. You can easily hop eastward to at least Novosibirsk, more or less along Trans-Siberian Railway.
If you want to do it next summer, you plan that trip for after July 20th, because between May 15th and July 20th the majority of the European part will be essentially closed for GA — all 11 UEFA games cities at the radius of 110 or even 200 (Sochi) kilometers from the center of the main sports venue of each city, plus airspace around several more cities. Coincidentally, the closed areas have the liveliest GA in the country. Some FSB guys decided that “there is a possibility of a terrorist attack using general aviation aircraft, small vessels and civilian weapons” (waterways are closed for private motor boats as well, and civilian weapons and ammunition sale is banned too), so they ground everyone for half of a season. They did it this year too, May 20th to July 4th in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Kazan’ and Sochi. It was a hint, first, that they surely do remember Mathias Rust, and second, that they want no private pilots at all. Fits well with recent Rosaviatsia’s bureaucratic attacks. In their mindset, the aircraft may be either military or Aeroflot, and, ok, let it be so, other big civil airlines. If they continue, we’ll have no pilots at all in 15 years outside several military airbases.
The recent example is that they revoked the certificate of Pioner Airline (Buryatia) because one of the engines of one of their An-24 was used for 15 minutes longer than it should have been according to the log (those 15 minutes were within 50 hours that are allowed to get to service facility for scheduled engine overhaul). Another one were administrative fines (and the guys slipped easy, they could serve couple of years in jail with penal accusation that is a lifetime black mark) for an “organized criminal gang of aircraft assemblers and test pilots” (the sound of it!!!) in Omsk — people just helped others to assemble planes from kits, according to all manuals and probably according to even stricter safety protocols than used at military aircraft factories. Investigators wiretapped all their communications for 1.5 years, hacked all social media and messenger accounts and went all the way just to get a €500 fine and create a precedent (not that Russian legislation is precedent-based, at least in theory).
Finals of the Russian stage of the 1st Helicopter Racing World Cup. This issue is the last for this year dedicated completely to helicopter sports. The next ones will be about different things, probably in a week or so.
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