Movement on the New Helo Front

 - January 9, 2008, 6:24 AM

Remember that day in early spring when suddenly it seemed as if every flower that could bloom actually did, unnoticed and overnight? That’s what happened at the end of the year, when some long-somnolent vertical-lift programs suddenly sprang to life. Most notable was the Bell/Agusta BA609 civil tiltrotor, which underwent its first power-on engine runups at its Arlington, Texas test base early last month. Next came Sikorsky’s S-92, which received its certification on December 19, 10 years and nine months after it was announced. Now from Russia comes news of further development of a helicopter of which little has been heard in some time. Thirteen years after it was first announced at the 1989 Paris Air Show, the Euromil Mi-38 medium transport is about to take to the skies for the first time. Slated for a first flight sometime this month, the Mi-38 will fly from the Kazan helicopter plant in the Russian Republic of Turkestan to a Mil test facility just outside Moscow. The 34,400-lb-mtow Mi-38 is unusual among Russian rotorcraft programs in that it has always been aimed primarily at the export market, where its closest conceivable competitor would be the freshly certified Sikorsky S-92, which it strongly resembles. The Mi-38 is the first product of the Euromil consortium, a jointly held corporation consisting of interests sponsored by Mil, Kazan and Eurocopter. Its cruising speed is 143 kt and maximum speed is 148 kt. The passenger capacity is 30 people, and its maximum commercial load is 5.5 metric tons (12,125 lb) in the fuselage and 7.7 metric tons (16,975 lb) externally.�