Russian Helicopters demonstrated its newest commercial version of the Mil Mi-18/17 'Hip' family at this week's Dubai Airshow. The Mi-171A2 represents a culmination of six decades of development following the first flight of the Mi-8 prototype in 1961. While the shape remains broadly the same, the latest aircraft incorporates major improvements in all areas.
Compared with earlier versions, the Mi-171A2 is powered by two uprated and Fadec-equipped VK-2500PS-03 engines—the civil version of the powerplant in the Mi-28NE attack helicopter—as well as having new composite main rotor blades and an X-shaped tail rotor. Combined with a strengthened transmission and a redesigned fuselage, this increases maximum speed to 280 km/h, while permitting the carriage of a four-tonne internal load or up to five tonnes slung underneath.
A new KBO-17 digital “glass” cockpit and navigation suite is installed that reduces the required flight crew to two, while a range of diagnostic functions is embedded in the aircraft’s systems. The Mi-171A2 has inherited its predecessors’ ability to operate uncomplainingly in the harshest of weather conditions and temperature extremes, while reliability has been improved and maintenance requirements reduced.
The helicopter is designed to be rapidly reconfigurable between cargo, rescue, and passenger transport roles. In the latter it can accommodate 24 passengers on energy-attenuating seats, or 13 in a corporate configuration. In the medical evacuation role it can carry two medical modules, and can also be adapted to search and rescue, firefighting, and patrol/border security tasks.
Built at the Ulan Ude Aviation Plant, the Mi-171A2 received initial certification by Russia’s Rosaviatsiya (Federal Air Transport Agency) under AP-29 Aviation Rules in August 2017, adding an extension that permitted operations at temperatures down to -50°C in January 2018. The first was handed over to Russian operator UTair in May 2018.
A partnership of Rosaviatsiya, Russian Helicopters and the Rostec State Corporation has resulted in certification of the Mi-171A2 in Colombia, India, Kazakhstan, South Korea and recently Vietnam.