Russian Helicopters is modernising the Mi-171M medium utility helicopter to offer users increased payload/range options. The company has installed a locally made engine on its Mi-38 in a bid to speed up the long-delayed programme.

Mil is studying two possible options for the modification, says Mil Helicopters Moscow general designer Alexei Samusenko. One would have clamshell doors with a longer fuselage to increase passenger capacity. A second version with a modified tail section will have increased fuel capacity to increase range to 1,200km (650nm).

Mil claims overall weight will not be increased, thanks to compensatory use of up to 25-30% of composite materials in the airframe.

The civil variant of the new machine will be designated Mi-171A2 after certification. It will feature a new composite main rotor and a new glass cockpit suitable for two-crew operation with no flight engineer.

The company is studying the Klimov/Motor Sich VK-2500 as a suitable powerplant, and possibly the TV3-117BMA-SBM1V, Samusenko says.

Russian Helicopters' Kazan helicopter plant is about to start ground tests of a second prototype Mi-38 medium utility design, powered by Pratt & Whitney Canada PW127 engines.

KVZ is also about to install Russian-made Klimov TV7-117B engines in another Mi-38, which it expects to fly later this year. The civil variant of the aircraft will be designated Mi-382.

Samusenko says the Russian-powered variant will be cheaper and not subject to delivery problems for political reasons. He says delivery of the PW127 was delayed in the wake of the Russian-Georgian war in summer 2008.

Russian Helicopters had previously complained that US political pressure on P&WC had stalled a deal for licence production of the PW127 in Russia.

Meanwhile, the Mil Moscow Helicopter factory plans to produce a demonstrator mock-up of its Mi-44 light helicopter later this year, as Russian Helicopters decides on a full-scale launch of the programme. The project is at the "initial stage" and is being financed by the company, Mil says.

The Mi-44, similar in configuration to the Eurocopter AS350, will be powered by two Progress TVD-450 gas turbine engines, which will be tested on a modified Mil Mi-2. The Mi-44 will have a maximum of seven seats and maximum take-off weight of 2,500kg (5,500lb).

Mil has previously demonstrated two variants of the type - a single-engined Mi-44-1 and twin-engined Mi-44-2.

But another Mil design, which has also been shown in mock-up form, the 10-12 seat Mi-54, is "suspended," Samusenko says, because it lacks a sufficiently powerful engine.

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Source: Flight International