Russia to start Mi-38 production in 2013 after PW127 engine supply resolved

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Russian Helicopters says it will begin production of the Mi-38 utility transport helicopter in 2013, after resolving engine supply issues with Pratt & Whitney Canada.

"The company plans to equip the helicopters with both Russian and Canadian engines. We see it as an additional advantage for our buyers. Partners in Russia and the CIS states traditionally opt for Russian-made engines, while partners worldwide may prefer Canadian," the firm says.

The Mi-38 programme has been beset by delays almost from its inception, when it was initially started in collaboration with Eurocopter.

mi-38
 © Russian Helicopters

Russian Helicopters' Mil Moscow Helicopter Plant said last year that production of the new-generation helicopter would begin no earlier than in 2014, after P&WC, initially chosen as the preferred engine supplier with the PW127/TS turboshaft, prevaricated over involvement in the project.

Russian Helicopters claimed that P&WC's reluctance to supply its engines was due to US political pressure following an embargo on sales of dual-purpose equipment to Russia.

P&WC had not replied to requests for comment on the situation as of 6 December. In May 2009, the company said it was "still in discussions with the client [Russian Helicopters] in a bid to resolve the issue."

OP-2, the second Mi-38 prototype, has made its first test flight after completing 26 ground runs and seven hover and low-speed flights over the runway.

The second prototype, powered by the PW127/TS, was modified following tests on the first Mi-38, with upgraded hydraulic and fuel systems, a spring-feel mechanism in the control system and some changes to the main rotor blades. The machine is now fully compliant with Russian AP-29 airworthiness regulations, equivalent to FAR-29. The aircraft is also fitted with a Russian-made Tranzas IBKV-38 avionics suite with a glass cockpit.

Russian Helicopters' Mil Moscow Helicopter Plant plans to demonstrate the OP-2 in 2011. A third prototype Mi-38 is under construction at the company's Kazan Helicopters Plant in the Russian republic of Tatarstan.

The twin-engine Mi-38 can carry up to 30 passengers, or a 5t payload, and can be used for civilian and military purposes.