History of Emergencies Ministry of Russia Aviation Service
The Federal State Unitary Aviation Enterprise of the Emergencies Ministry of Russia was established on 10 May 1995. This day is the official day of establishment of the Aviation service of the Emergencies Ministry of Russia. But the history of the aircraft service of the Emergencies Ministry of Russia had started from the moment, when by the Edict No.305 of the President of the Russian Federation from 18 December 1991, 4 separate helicopter squadrons and Civil Defence forces of the Ministry of Defence were placed under the control of the State Committee for Extraordinary Situations in the Central, Ural, East-Siberian and Far Eastern Regional Centers.
By June of 1992 the State Committee for Extraordinary Situations received 9 Mil Mi-6 and 16 Mil Mi-8 helicopters. But such small fleet couldn’t provide mitigation of emergency situation in vast territories of Russia.
The responsibility of protection of the population and territories, placed on the Emergencies Ministry of Russia required strong aircraft division of the Ministry that was capable of fulfilling tasks specified by the Federal Law “On protection of the population and territories against emergency situations and natural disasters” by its own forces and equipment. But small fleet of aircraft, which mainly consisted of outdated aircraft didn’t allow to immediately respond to emergency situations, especially in remote areas of the country. From the beginning of the Emergencies Service of Russia it was obvious that “emergency” aircraft are crucial for rapid response to emergency situations in remote areas. To fulfill rescue and humanitarian tasks, the Ministry needed new fleet of aircraft and skilled specialists. It is impossible to complete any tasks in the zones of emergency without aircraft.
In 1993, State Committee for Extraordinary Situations had acquired two Ilyushin Il-76TD aircraft and assigned them to the Centrospas Airmobile Unit.
In the beginning of 1994 the State Committee for Extraordinary Situations was reorganized into the Ministry of the Russian Federation for Civil Defence, Emergencies and Elimination of Consequences of Natural Disasters (The Emergencies Ministry of Russia). Shortly after, the Concept of Aircraft Service of the Emergencies Ministry was developed.
The Emergencies Ministry needed modern and multifunctional aircraft for fulfilling different tasks. The Emergencies Ministry placed an order for development of the Kamov Ka-226 light rescue and recovery helicopter, which was planned to be used in search and rescue operations in urban and rough terrains, as well as for patrols of large motorways, delivery of patients to the hospitals, ecological monitoring of environment. But unfortunately, production of the Kamov Ka-226 helicopter got delayed and the Emergencies Ministry had acquired Kamov Ka-32 helicopters instead. The Emergencies Ministry still plans to acquire Kamov Ka-226 helicopters but also considering the possibility of acquiring Kazan Ansat light helicopters. The Emergencies Ministry also placed an order for Beriev Be-200 amphibian planes to fulfill the different tasks, such as: transportation of cargo and passengers, extinguishing of fires by dropping of water or extinguishants onto fires, provision of medical aid, control for coastlines and economical zones, monitoring of ecological situation.
It was decided that coordinating body must be established to manage the establishment, use and development of the aircraft service.
By the order No.590 of the Emergencies Ministry from 28 September 1994 the Aircraft Administration, based on the Aircraft and Transport Office of the Division of the Emergency Response Directorate and Aircraft Division of the Civil Defence Troops Directorate was established within the Development Directorate. According to the Order No. 482 of the Emergencies Ministry from 7 July 1995, the Aircraft Administration became the independent managing body.
Chechen War of 1994-1995 became a challenge for the Emergencies Ministry and new Aircraft Service. Together with the aircraft of the Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of the Internal of the Russian Federation that provided transportation for troops, vehicles into the area of conflict, the aircraft of the Emergencies Ministry also carried out humanitarian operations, transportation of refugees, sick and injured from the conflict area, as well as delivered humanitarian goods. The separate helicopter squadron was created at the start of Chechen Conflict to carry out humanitarian operations.
The helicopter pilots of the Emergencies Ministry had carried out 654 flights in the period from January to April of 1995. The aircraft group managed to evacuate 4,112 refugees, injured and sick from the conflict area under fire of separatists. 317 tons of humanitarian aid was delivered to different regions of conflict area by the helicopter task group of the Emergencies Ministry. Pilots (under command of S. Zikeyev) organized medevac of injured and sick directly from the battlefield. They were under fire numerous times, but they didn’t lose any helicopters or crew members.
The first pilots of the Emergencies Minsitry to be decorated for rescuing of people were: Colonels Garin V., Plastkov A., Zikeyev S., Miroshnichenko O., Mudrenov V., Bortan C., Pavlov A. and Lieutenant-General of Reserve Kozlov L.
On 10 May 1995 the Regulation No. 457 of the Government of the Russian Federation provided establishment of the State Unitary Aircraft Enterprise of the Emergencies Ministry (SUAE). The necessity of this aircraft enterprise was justified by the tasks of the rescuers, which required the use of aircraft. According to the Regulation of the Government of the Russian Federation, the base of the SUAE was located in the airfield of the Gromov’s Aircraft and Research Institute in the town of Zhukovsky. This was also the place, where the rescuers based. The location of rescuers and their equipment in close proximity to the aircraft base allowed providing the 3-hour preparedness to depart to any part of the world in case of emergency.
The aviation service had to complete difficult tasks during mitigation of earthquake on Sakhalin Island (in the town of Neftegorsk) in May of 1995. The pilots of the 137th Separate Helicopter Squadron evacuated the injured from Neftegorsk in adverse conditions to the regional center of Okha and also delivered medicine and supplies. Then all the injured were delivered by the SUAE planes to Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, Khabarovsk and Magadan. The most injured were delivered to Moscow.
During mitigation of the earthquake, planes had carried out 241 flights and helicopters had 191 flights. The aircraft transported 5048 injured, 690 tons of building materials and humanitarian goods. Due to shortage of aircraft in the Emergencies Ministry, more than 40 planes and helicopters from other agencies and ministries were involved into mitigation of the earthquake.
Colonel Zakirov Rafail Shakurovich was appointed to the position of the Head of the Aircraft Administration by the Order No.147 of the Emergencies Ministry of Russia from 10 July 1995. Rafail Zakirov started to create managing bodies of the Aircraft Administration, airmobile teams. He directed the creation of Concept of Aircraft Service of the Emergencies Ministry and the SUAE. Together with the specialists he was engaged into development of new aircraft technologies and implemented them into rescue operations, which allowed using aircraft more efficiently in emergency response in Russia and abroad.
Adverse fire situation had occurred in Komsomolsk-on-Amur District of Khabarovsk Territory in 1996. For mitigation of forest fires, the SUAE had dispatched three aircraft crews headed by Abramov E., Smirnov A., Filin L. Mitigation of these forest fires was the first actual experience of pilots of the Emergencies Ministry of Russia. There were a lot of hardships, but experience gained during trainings provided successful completion of tasks.
Crews of Abramov E., Filin, L and Smirnov A. carried out 50 runs in 5 days and dropped more than 2,100 tons of water onto fires. With their help, the forest fires were put out. As a result, 7 settlements, 2 animal farms, 3 recreational facilities for children were saved.
After they completed their tasks in Khabarovsk Territory, they were dispatched to the city of Volgograd, where they had to complete the first task of its kind in the world – to put out fire in a petroleum clearing pool, which belonged to Lukoil-Volgogradneftpererabotka Company. This accident was the largest fire in the history of Russia. There was a threat of ecological catastrophe in Volgograd and Rostov Regions. It was necessary to take unconventional and urgent decisions.
Specialists of the Emergency Response Staff said back then that it is impossible to put out such fire by aircraft means. But the pilots of the Emergencies Ministry proved them wrong. Professionalism, courage of pilots and cooperation between crews allowed mitigation of fire in a petroleum clearing pool. Efficiency of the Emergencies Ministry aircraft and special approaches in firefighting exceeded all expectations.
In 1995 and 1996 several special search operations were carried out to find Tupolev Tu-154 planes, which crashed on Svalbard Island, and search operation for Sukhoi Su-27 fighter plane of Russkiye Vityazy aerobatic demonstration team, which crashed near the town of Cam Ranh in Vietnam. Foreign produced BBM Bo.105 and BBM/Kawasaki BK.117 helicopters proved their efficiency during search operations. Since the end of 1997, BBM Bo.105 and BBM/Kawasaki BK.117 rescue helicopters were cleared to fly in airspace of Moscow and transport seriously-ill and injured in traffic accidents to the hospitals. The emergency medical aid saved thousands of lives.
In 1998 pilots of the Emergencies Ministry for the first time were involved into firefighting operation abroad. Within the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation, the crews headed by Drobinsky V. and Parshin A. on Ilyushin Il-76TD firefighting planes aided to fight major fires in Croatia, while the crews under command of Serykh E. and Popov L. provided help in Greece. In total, 156 firefighting runs were carried out abroad by SUAE pilots in 1998.
In June 1999, the Government of Greece asked the Emergencies Ministry of Russia to provide Ilyushin Il-76TD plane with crew and maintenance staff for the period from 15 June to 31 August to put out forest fires. The group of specialists from SUAE headed by Drobinsky V. successfully completed all tasks. Since then, the Emergencies Ministry of Russia is early invited to provide assistance in firefighting, as experience and skill of our pilots is exceptional.
In August of 1999, the Government of Turkey required the firefighting-Ilyushin planes and crews of the Emergencies Ministry of Russia. The aircraft group of 3 crews and maintenance specialists headed by the Commander of the Airmobile group of SUAE Serykh E. participated in the mitigation of fire on petroleum plant in the town of Izmit, which occurred after strong earthquake in Turkey. All operations were commanded by the Head of Aircraft Administration Zakirov R. Unprecedented fire, which lasted several days, could have explode tanks with petroleum gas and initiate emission of toxic substances, which would cause ecological catastrophe in Bosphorus strait, contamination of nearby cities and settlements. But this chain of events was prevented. For the first time in the world, the firefighting Ilyusin Il-76TD planes dropped their loads in a group simultaneously.
The group carried out the firefighting run and dropped hundreds of tons of extinguishant onto fire from height of 50 meters. The fire was mitigated. This unique operation is a prideful example of Russian equipment, aircraft, courage and proficiency of the crew of the Emergencies Ministry of Russia.
By 2001, the fleet of the Emergencies Ministry had significantly increased. New planes and helicopters were acquired. The composition of aircraft and helicopters was optimized, organizational framework and creation of new airmobile central and regional groups was carried out.
It was decided to acquire new Beriev Be-200ChS amphibian planes and Antonov An-3 planes for regional centers of the Emergencies Ministry.
The most valuable asset of the Aviation Administration of the Emergencies Ministry of Russia is pilots and maintenance crews. These people are courageous and are first-class specialists of their profession. And this is the reason why pilots of the Emergencies Ministry have so much respect in our country.
In May 2001 a catastrophic flood occurred in the town of Lensk, the Yakutia. Water level in the Lena River was rising unbelievably fast. The maximum water level in the river reached 20 meters and 7 centimeters. 98% of the town was flooded. The SUAE Ilyushin Il-76 planes delivered rescue teams of Leader and Tsentrospas teams, medics from the Zashchita All-Russian Center for Emergency Medicine, as well as vehicles and equipment to the site of the accident. Rescuers worked around the clock. Pilots from the 235th and 171st Squadrons of the Emergencies Ministry worked together with the rescuers. They rescued people from roofs and transported them to the safe place. About 23,000 people were evacuated. Helicopter pilots of the Emergencies Ministry evacuated 277 non-transportable patients from the Central Hospital to the town of Mirny. The Head of the Aircraft Administration Zakirov R. personally directed all operations to mitigate the flood. He organized the airbridge, which was used by the Ilyushin Il-76s to deliver building materials, equipment and relief goods (good, clothes, medications, etc). Planes delivered recovery teams from several regions of the country. Demolition teams were delivered to ice jams.
All landing pads were flooded within 2 days. The Head of the Siberian Regional Center Fyodorov S. proposed to use roofs of unfinished buildings as landing pads.
The State Unitary Enterprise of the Emergencies Ministry of Russia was renamed into the Federal State Unitary Aviation Enterprise of the Emergencies Ministry of Russia on 1 February 2002.
In 2002, the Aviationof the Emergencies Ministry had carried out 7,610 flights, delivered 12,760 tons of relief goods to emergency zones and transported 18,330 people. the Aircraft Administration of the Emergencies Ministry carried out the most adverse tasks in Afghanistan, during mitigation of wildfires in Moscow Region and Far East, and during catastrophic flood in the Southern Federal District, when 9 regions of Russia got flooded. 377 settlements were flooded. The flood destroyed 13,338 houses, damaged almost 40,000 houses and 445 educational facilities.
The aircraft of the Emergencies Ministry carried out 577 flights during rescue operation in the Southern Federal District. More than 700 people, including 250 children, were saved in Mineralnye Vody and the settlement of Bersukovskaya (Stavropol Region) and in the settlement of Krasny Partizan (Dagestan). Helicopters evacuated 2,535 people and transported 9,840 tons of cargo. Zakirov R. commanded all aircraft operations.
During summer of 2002, adverse fire situation occurred in the Central and Far Eastern Federal Districts. Forest fires occurred in Vladimir, Ryazan, Irkutsk and Chita Regions, as well as Maritime Territory.
Peat fires in the Central Federal District in Moscow Region and forest fires in the Far Eastern Federal District were put out with the help of Russian aircraft, modern firefighting approaches, which once again proved their efficiency.
In 2003 the Aircraft Administration of the Emergencies Ministry received a plane of new generation – multirole Beriev Be-200ChS amphibian-plane. Pilots and maintenance teams were retrained in the Beriev’s Aviation and Research Institute. The pilots trained landing and taking off from water. The Head of the Aviation Administration Zakirov R. was the first to master piloting of the Beriev Be-200ChS. All pilots that were trained to fly that plane learned to land on and take off from water.
The Government of France required help of Russia in 2003. Aircraft group of the Emergencies Ministry, consisting of 19 people, headed by the Deputy Head of the Aircraft Administration Fomin A., was sent to France.
Despite all hardships, the aircraft group of the Emergencies Ministry of Russia completed all tasks set by France. This group worked in the most adverse places, which were under special attention of the French press and TV-cameras: Larzac Plateau, Luberon massif, Lucerne, Corsica, the Massif des Maures.
French colleagues appraised pilots and equipment of the Emergencies Ministry of Russia. Helicopters of the Emergencies Ministry carried out 50 flights and dropped thousands of water onto forest fires.
In 2003 the Aviation of the Emergencies Ministry had carried out 11,197 flights, including 1,534 flights to emergency zones. The total amount of flying hours is 8,108. Planes and helicopters of the Emergencies Ministry of Russia transported 16,796 passengers and more than 17,000 tons of cargo. More than 4,800 tons of water was dropped onto fires during mitigation of wildfires.
In 2004, due to war in Iraq and frequent attacks and kidnappings of foreign contract specialists, there was a threat for Russian specialists.
The Government of the Russian Federation decided to evacuate fellow countrymen from Iraq. Crews of the Federal State Unitary Aircraft Enterprise Serykh E., Kryukov V., Kudashkin A., Parshin A. in dangerous conditions evacuated more than 500 fellow countrymen from Baghdad in 4 flights.
In May of 2004, the aircraft group of the Emergencies Ministry was dispatched to Kurgan Region, where large-scale forest fires occurred. 20 settlements, with the total population of 18,327 people were under immediate threat of fire. There was a great threat of fire in petroleum pipeline and factory of Russian Federal Agency for State Reserves.
The aircraft group headed by the Head of the Aviation Administration Zakirov R. from the period of 14 to 20 May was reinforced and carried out 145 flights and dropped 12,789 tons of water with exitnguishants onto fires.
Thanks to professional and fast actions of pilots of the Emergencies Ministry Zakirov R., Serykh E., Shalunov V., Parshin A., Lyalyayev A., Abramov A., Plastkov., A., Sereda A., Latypov R., Shulgin S., Grigoryev A., Shagiev B., Lazarenko A., fires in 13 settlements of the region, one work-farm and munitions depot were prevented.
For the sake of safety of every person, the Emergencies Ministry of Russia constantly carries out trainings and drills, where rescuers master their skills and check capabilities of their equipment.
International drills became a good tradition. During international drills, the cooperation between air, ground and sea search and rescue services is trained. The Aircraft of the Emergencies Ministry of Russia participates in majority of such drills, for example: Polyarnye Zori 1995, Joint Rescue Operation-97, Co-Operative Saveguard 2000, Barents Rescue 2001 and 2009, Bogorodsk 2002 and 2009 (the town of Noginsk), joint comprehensive drill Vzaimodeystvie 2009 (the town of Almaty), joint drills of the Emergencies Ministry of Russia and Border Service of the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation (Francis Joseph's Land Island), Integrated Safety and Security 2010.
On 11 June 2004, the Emergencies Ministry of Russia received the second Beriev Be-200ChS plane and it was set in operation on 20 June. On 22-25 June 2004 Partnership for Peace drill for rescuers of NATO countries and Russia had been carried out on the Kaliningrad base of Baltic Fleet.
The Beriev Be-200ChS was also highly praised by the Chairman of the Government of the Russian Federation Fradkov V. and members of the Government that observed the demonstration drills of the Emergencies Ministry of Russia in the city of Noginsk in June 2004.
Similar drill dedicated to rescue on seas was carried out at the end of August of 2004 by the Far Eastern Regional Center in the city of Vladivostok. The main role was given to the amphibian plane Beriev BE-200ChS, like during the international drill in Kaliningrad.
These drills showed that Russia has the best equipment for rescue on seas. Beriev Be-200ChS plane proved once again that it is capable to promptly deliver rescuers and boats to the emergency zones, pick up victims from water and deliver to the shore for provision of qualified medical aid, as well as efficiently put out fires on petrol tankers, passenger vessels and petroleum platforms.
During the period of 27 December 2004 and 5 February 2005, the Aircraft of the Emergencies Ministry carried out 10 flights of the Southeast Asia, such as Sri-Lanka and Indonesia. Pilots of the Federal State Unitary Aviation Enterprise delivered to hit countries more than 200 tons of relief goods, evacuated more than 100 tourists and the total flight time is 232 hours.
In 2008 during the humanitarian operation in North Ossetia, the aircraft of the Emergencies Ministry was actively engaged into mitigation of armed aggression of Georgia against this republic. Planes and helicopters of the Emergencies Ministry delivered about 3,000 tons of relief goods, evacuated sick and injured to medical institutions. Pilots spent 677 hours in flight, carried out more than 150 flights. The most distinguished pilots Chernobrovkin V., Skakovsky V., Khudik C., Korolyov V., Olenin A., Fokin V. were decorated by state awards.
During the period from 28 November to 1 December of 2009, the aircraft of the Emergencies Ministry carried out 43 flights and spent 47 hours and 31 minutes in the air. They transported 59.4 tons of cargo and special equipment, 120 rescuers, medics, employees of procuracy and other specialists.
23 injured were evacuated to the medical institutions of Moscow and Saint Petersburg. 14 deceased were delivered.
The group of 12 aircraft of the Emergencies Ministry aided in mitigation of fire in the town of Perm.
During the period from 5 December to 10 December of 2009, the aircraft of the Emergencies Ministry carried out 43 flights and spent 47 hours and 31 minutes in the air. They transported 59.4 tons of cargo and special equipment, 120 rescuers, medics, employees of procuracy and other specialists.
99 injured were evacuated to medical institutions of Moscow and Saint Petersburg. 2 deceased were delivered.
The Emergencies Ministry aircraft provided protection during XXVII World Summer University Games in 2013 and Olympic Games in 2014 in Sochi.
The Aircraft of the Emergencies Ministry evacuated 1010 injured, including 19 seriously-ill from 14 countries of Europe, Asia and South America in 2014. Humanitarian aid was delivered to 24 countries.
In 2015, the Emergencies Ministry’s aviation carried out 17,224 flights with total flight hours of 13,980. 10,725 flights with total flight hours of 5,896 were carried out to complete tasks of the Emergencies Ministry.
24,187 people and more than 8,138 tons of cargo were transported, 2,587 flights with 2,539 flight hours were carried out to put out fires, more than 47,358 tons of extinguishants were dropped onto fires.
On 21 February of 2015 in Mordvinov Gulf in Korsakov District a 3-meter wide crack on the ice appeared 500 meters from the shore. 224 fishers were on the ice. Rescuers, employees of the State Small Vessel Inspectorate and aircraft of the Emergencies Ministry of Russia were immediately dispatched to the site of the accident. Crew of the Mil Mi-8 helicopter monitored the situation and coordinated the rescuers on the ground. 27 people were saved.
October 2015 – Airbus A321 catastrophe in Egypt. 4 aircraft were involved to provide search and rescue operations. 57 flights were carried out and 205 hours spent in the air. 169 people (124 rescuers, 45 specialists from ministries and agencies), more than 340 tons of cargo and 5 vehicles were delivered to Egypt.
Russian citizens and their luggage were evacuated (from cities of Sharm el-Sheikh, Hurghada and Cairo). Emergencies Ministry organized 17 flights to evacuate everybody. Luggage of 420 flights was delivered in Russia.
The results of the Aviation Administration of the Emergencies Ministry can be demonstrated by delivered relief goods, evacuated people from emergency zones and military operations, patients that were delivered to hospitals, fires that were put out, and rescued lives – these a results that were achieved in 25 years and this is the history no only of the Emergencies Ministry, but history of modern Russia.
One of the main achievements is the new approaches in rescuing, firefighting from aircraft, mitigation of ice jams, floods, oil spills that are successfully used today. New technologies, which are going to be used soon, are under development right now.
Currently, the Emergencies Ministry has 74 aircraft at its disposal, including 18 planes and 56 helicopters (as of November 2017).
In 2017, as of 22 November 2017, the Russian Emergencies Ministry’s pilots have spent 14,163 in flight and have carried out 16,148 flights, including:
5,005 flights to response to emergencies, spending 5,168 hours in the air, including flights to protect the settlements against wildfires, including abroad the Russian Federation (Chile), 881 flights have been carried out with 3,961 discharges, dropping more than 33,000 tons of water. 6,541 people (rescuers, firemen of the Emergencies Ministry and smokejumpers of Avialesokhrana) have been deployed by the aircraft. Joint actions of ground forces and aircraft prevented spreading of wildfires in more than 3,700 settlements, populated by 8 million 485 thousand residents.
More than 2,300 flights, spending more than 2,500 hours in the air, have been carried out to evacuate gravely ill and injured people to hospitals in the Russian Federation and abroad;
29 flights, spending more than 123 hours in the air, have been carried out to deliver 337 tons of relief goods to Yemen, Tajikistan, Sri-Lanka, Mexico and Vietnam.