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Aero-TV: AK1-3 Kit Helicopter Coming to America

Polish Experimental Category Helicopter Impresses

The Aerokopter AK1-3 is a Ukrainian-designed and built helicopter distributed by Warsaw, Poland’s Manufaktura Lotnicza as the Argon AK1-3 Sanka. The aircraft is supplied as both a kit and a complete, ready-to-fly helicopter. In several Slavic languages, Sanka is the term for sled.

Designed to comply with Ukrainian AP-27 rules—which approximate the European Aviation Safety Agency’s (EASA) CS-27 standards—the AK1-3 is a conventional helicopter featuring an enclosed, two-occupant cabin; a single main rotor; and a boom-mounted anti-torque rotor. The aircraft is powered by a four-cylinder, air-cooled, four-stroke, 156-horsepower Subaru EJ25 engine designed to run on automotive gasoline.

The AK1-3’s 22.4-foot-diameter three-bladed Starflex rotor employs a unique torsion-bar blade mounting that allows blade movement to produce pitch angle changes, flapping, as well as lead and lag. The aircraft’s main transmission consists of belt drives, while its anti-torque rotor is driven by a solid shaft.

The AK1-3’s architecture—its bulbous, high-visibility cabin; three-blade main-rotor; minimalist tail-boom; and twin-skid undercarriage—speaks to what the Hughes/Schweizer S300 might have been had it originated in Eastern Europe.

A wee beastie, the AK1-3’s 1,433-pound maximum gross weight comprises an 838-pound empty weight and a useful load of 595-pounds. Fueled to its 22-gallon capacity, the contraption manages a 2.5-hour endurance.

Performance figures for the AK1-3 are sketchy and contradictory. Varying sources put the helicopter’s Vne speed between 122-knots and 96-knots, and its cruise speed between 96-knots and 86-knots. Rate of climb data is more consistent, with most sources reporting an initial, seal-level figure in the neighborhood of 1,500-feet-per-minute.

Built from a kit, the Experimental Category AK1-3 can be assembled in 350 to 500 hours—depending on the builder’s skill, experience, and the tools and shop facilities available to him. The kit is carefully engineered to meet the FAA’s 51-percent rule.

Known in official FAA parlance as the Major Portion Rule, the regulation sets forth that a home-built aircraft—in order to be certified under the agency’s (favorable) Experimental Amateur-Built category—must be assembled primarily (at least 51-percent) by an amateur builder. The rule’s specifics are spelled out, more or less, in FAR 21.191 [g].

The FAA maintains a list of aircraft kits determined by the agency to represent a maximum 49-percent-degree of OEM completion. Subject list helps FAA inspectors determine quickly and with a high-degree of accuracy whether a given aircraft conforms to the 51-percent rule.

It should be noted that an aircraft kit’s exclusion from the aforementioned list does not summarily preclude it’s being certified compliant with the 51-percent rule.

A fully factory-built, turnkey AK1-3 helicopter can be had for approximately $185,000. 

Aero-TV is a production of the Internationally syndicated Aero-News Network. Seen worldwide by hundreds of thousands of aviators and aviation adherents, ANN's Aero-TV has produced over 5000 aviation and feature programs, including nearly 2000 episodes of our daily aviation news program, AIRBORNE UNLIMITED, currently hosted by Holland Lee. Now in its third decade of operation, parent company Aero-News Network, has the most aggressive and intensive editorial profile of any aviation news organization and has published nearly a half-million news and feature stories since its inception -- having pioneered the online 24/7 aviation new-media model that so many have emulated.

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