After unveiling the Saba-248 light-twin helicopter in March, Iranian industry officials revealed new details about the programme’s schedule, supply chain and performance on 18 July at the MAKS air show in July.

The unveiling of the Saba-248 in Iran four months ago caught industry watchers by surprise, revealing a potentially competitive offering bearing a likeness to the Bell Helicopter 427.

The aircraft completed first flight in 2016 and entry into service within Iran is scheduled in 2019, says Rohallah Famerini, a deputy managing director for commercial and economic affairs for the Iran Helicopter Support and Renewal Company (IHSRC), the Saba-248’s designer.

IHRSC plans to certificate the aircraft for operations with Iran only initially, with applications as a search and rescue and disaster response aircraft for civilian Iranian agencies, Famerini says.

The Iranians plan to lean heavily on Western suppliers for critical equipment. The first aircraft is powered by two Turbomeca Arrius engines with a 640hp rating at takeoff power, Famerini says. The transmission is provided by an Austrian company, he adds.

Much of the performance is implied by the aircraft’s numerical designation. The aircraft features two engines, four rotor blades and carries eight people – hence, the Saba-248. Saba is a Farsi term meaning “good wind”, Famerini says.

A promotional brochure lists the aircraft with a cruise speed of 129kt, a maximum speed of 150kt and a top range of 524nm (970km).