Moscow-based Russian Helicopters is simultaneously working to develop and upgrade six civil helicopter models. Ranked from lightest to heaviest, these are a joint project with AgustaWestland for a 2.5-ton single, a simplified Ansat, the Ka-226T, the Ka-62, the Mi-171A2 and the Mi-38. Four of them are planned for certification within the next 18 months. At the Paris Air Show, Rotor & Wing sat down with a company spokesman for an update.
Russian Helicopters announced the project for a 2.5-ton (5,500 lbs) single in 2012 that will be in the same category as Eurocopter’s AS350/EC130 Ecureuil family. According to the spokesman, the two companies are working on defining the aircraft – which AgustaWestland confirmed. However, the outlines still seem fuzzy so far.
The 7,900-lb Ansat, powered by two Pratt & Whitney Canada PW207Ks, fell short of being the world’s first civil helicopter with fly-by-wire (FBW) controls. Indeed, it was delivered to the Russian military for pilot training. However, for the civil version, the manufacturer was concerned about the complexity, as no civil aviation authority has ever certified FBW on a rotorcraft yet. Hence a redevelopment – Russian Helicopters is working on conventional flight controls. The spokesman anticipated certification for this summer.
The 7,900-lb Ka-226T twin, which features two coaxial main rotors, receives power from Turbomeca Arrius 2G1s. It has recently performed capability demonstrations in preparation for the Olympic games in Sochi in 2014. However, the Ka-226T is still waiting for Russian certification, which has been consistently postponed. It will happen this year, the spokesman pledged. Some production copies are ready for delivery. The next step will be EASA approval.
Meanwhile, the first Ka-62, a 14,300-lb twin powered by Turbomeca Ardiden 3Gs, should fly this summer. A second prototype is now being put together. The 12- to 15-seater has its first customer in Brazil, where Atlas Taxi Aereo will operate it. Certification is slated for late in 2014 and the first handover early in 2015.
The 28,600-lb Mi-171A2, a more powerful, modernized evolution of the Mi-8/17, should be displayed at this summer’s MAKS show and fly soon after.
Finally, the fourth prototype of the Mi-38, a 34,400-lb twin, should soon be completed. It will be the conforming version featuring larger windows and a fuel system supplied by France’s Aerazur. Klimov engines have been selected, although one prototype has flown with Pratt & Whitney Canada turboshafts. Certification is expected in 2014 and production should start the year after.
To cope with this massive development effort, Russian Helicopters wants to “improve the efficiency of [its] 40,000 employees.” In addition, it is creating “competence centers,” such as transmission (i.e., gearboxes etc.) at Reducktor-PM in Perm and casting facilities at Progress in Arsenyev.
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