Manufacturing fake watches and luxury goods may be known; but a factory that makes fake helicopters- copies of the Russian Ka-26- has been unearthed in the former Soviet republic of Moldova.
Law enforcement officers discovered the unauthorized helicopter assembly workshop, which, according to investigators, was used to illegally manufacture and sell helicopters in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), Moldovian publication, Point MD reported Tuesday quoting a supervisor in the Prosecutor General’s office in Moldova.
“During the search on production lines today more than 10 helicopters are found that are at different stages of readiness. The production was conducted without the necessary permits and documents on the origin of parts and equipment,” the supervisor said in a statement.
The helicopters manufactured were Soviet-made Ka-26 models and assembly was carried out in one of the settlements of Criuleni district.
How this “factory” escaped the authorities’ attention is baffling; Helicopters go through an elaborate testing and certification process. The certification agency has to have full records of every helicopter’s manufacturing and certification history before it grants its owners a flying license . Besides, every flight has to have prior permission from air traffic control- Ed.
The prosecutor’s office noted that the fake chopper manufacturing process was established by an organized group of people from the Transnistria region. A criminal case has been instituted against them regarding helicopter smuggling. Moldovan legislation provides for a punishment of imprisonment for a period of three to 10 years (for such crimes).
Law enforcement authorities continue searches and collection of evidence, the statement said. However, it has not been revealed if any arrests have been made or any one identified in the 'organized group.'
The Ka-26 was designed at the beginning of the sixties. It is built for maximum simplicity and versatility as a "lifting system" consisting of the power-plant, contra-rotating rotor assembly, cabin, landing gear and twin endplate fin tail unit. Loads and containers of various kinds can be installed behind the cabin and beneath the rotors. It can accomodate six passengers, It is used in the CIS to spray insecticides and for agricultural use. A variant for geophysical survey is equipped with an electromagnetic pulse generator in the cabin and a big hoop antenna outside. Thanks to its compactness and stability, the Ka-26 can operate from small platforms and has been fitted with floats and used for fish-spotting
The Ka-26 went into service on a large scale in 1970 and has been exported for both civil and military use.
Russia helicopters has further developed this in to the Ka-226 which builds on the Ka-26’s basic design to offer one of the most versatile and customizable helicopters in the world.