Russian firm testing low-cost helo engine

 - November 29, 2007, 6:28 AM

St. Petersburg, Russia-based engine manufacturer Klimov is offering the VK800, a new turboshaft in the 600- to 1,000-shp range, as a low-cost alternative to Western helicopter engines. The company claims the engine is the first clean-sheet design since the Soviet era. Certification is pegged for 2009.

According to a spokesman, the company has now started testing the engine after formally announcing the program in June. Klimov has also signed an agreement with Ufa to manufacture some parts. Klimov will make the rest of the parts and be responsible for final assembly.

The first production engines will be put together beginning at the end of 2009.

The company hopes to have the VK800 offered as an option, and possibly as a retrofit, on the AgustaWestland AW109, the Sikorsky S-76D and the Bell 417. The first applications for the VK800 are planned to be the Ansat, Ka-126, Ka-226 and Mi-54. Klimov is counting on capturing 30 percent of the market in the 600- to 1,000-shp bracket. This is supposed to translate into sales of 2,400 VK800-series engines by 2016.

Lightweight Design
The company believes the engine–and its $300,000 price tag–will appeal to Western manufacturers. In addition, the manufacturer touts the engine’s light weight and compact design, thanks to a high compression ratio–10–in the single-stage compressor. Fuel burn is said to be up to 4 percent lower than that of current engines in the same power class.

The engine has a centrifugal compressor and a two-stage turbine. Engine control is by dual digital channels and a hydromechanical backup. This is an unusual configuration, as most  have either two channels (fadec) or one channel with a hydromechanical backup.

The company claims the engine will have maintenance costs 10 percent lower than those of current engines in the same class because the VK800 is designed
to be maintained on condition. Klimov is advertising that an operator can expect to fly 4,500 hours before the first repair.

The company mainly supports military engines and will use its existing operations in 18 countries to support the new engine.

The VK800V (800 shp) by the Numbers

Takeoff power (ISA + 20 degrees C): 800 shp

Emergency power (2 min 30 sec): 1,000 shp

Cruise power: 450 shp

Specific fuel consumption at cruise:
0.64 lb/shp/hour

Length: 39 inches

Width: 23 inches

Height: 23 inches

Weight: 308 pounds