Russian Helicopters' Mi-38 medium-lift utility helicopter is likely to be delayed for at least two years, due to a switch to locally made TV-7-117 engines from the originally intended Pratt & Whitney Canada PW127.

"The Mi-38 will be ready slightly later than they wished, in approximately two years. I think we will start selling it in 2012," Oboronprom director Andrei Rus said on 14 May.

Russian Helicopters general director Andrei Shibitov, in a television interview with Russia Today, said the company blames political pressure from the USA for the stalling of a deal with P&WC to make the PW127 in Russia under licence.

"Our co-operation with P&WC has been frozen practically since last summer due to political factors," Shibitov said. "As I understand it this was due to pressure from the USA. But both ourselves and P&WC are trying to resolve this. It's held up the programme by around a year."

P&WC has no comment other than "we are in discussions with the client".

The two sides signed a groundbreaking deal last year in which Russia would have produced a PW127 variant under licence in Russia for the 30-seat, 5t-payload Mi-38, which is also capable of carrying external loads of up to 7t. At that time, the plan called for Russian certification of the PW127TS for 2011 and the Mi-38 to enter into service in 2012.

This would have been the first time Western turbine engines had been made under licence in Russia since the Rolls-Royce Nene was built for the Mikoyan MiG-15 in the late 1940s.

The delay is the latest in a string of hold-ups with the Mi-38, many of them associated with its foreign partners. The programme was initially a joint venture with Eurocopter called Euromil, but Eurocopter pulled out in the early stages over concerns about intellectual property right protection.

Source: Flight International