Russia's state-owned rotorcraft builder Russian Helicopters is considering abandoning the Pratt & Whitney PW127 engine for use in its Mi-38 utility helicopter and replacing it with a local alternative.

"We have been forced to reconsider our terms of co-operation with Pratt & Whitney Canada. We are now considering an alternative option of using Russian TV-117V engines on Mi-38 helicopters," says Russia Helicopters general director Andrei Shibitov. He adds that Russian Helicopters will work on this version of the helicopter.

Last year the company signed a memorandum of understanding under which Russia's UMPO and the Central Institute of Aviation Engines will develop a turboshaft variant of the PW127TS to be assembled locally for the Mi-38 - the first time a deal had been agreed for Russian production of a Western helicopter engine.

Shibitov blames slow implementation by P&WC for the decision, although P&WC says it is still in discussions with the customer.

This is not the first time the Mi-38 programme has experienced difficulties with overseas producers. The project initially involved Eurocopter, in a joint venture called EuroMil, but Eurocopter pulled out of the project because of concerns over protection of intellectual property rights.

The Mi-38 is now in its final stages of testing and is undergoing installation of radio-electronics trials. A second test airframe is near to completion at the company's Kazan plant.

The Mi-38 flight-test programme is due to be completed this year, with production due to begin in 2010.

Kazan says it expects the government to earmark Rb3 billion ($100 million) in its federal aviation support plan to start Mi-38 production.

Source: Flight International