Mi-171s One Hero after Chinese Earthquake

 - September 25, 2008, 6:59 AM

Operators of Mil helicopters meeting at Russia’s Ulan-Ude Aviation Plant (UUAP) in late July heard how the Mil-171 led rescue operations for victims of the recent earthquake in China’s Sichuan province. Of the 137 Russian, Chinese, French and U.S. helicopters involved in the effort, 74 were Mi-171s, and these were responsible for rescuing more than 37,000 people (of a total of around 60,000). The Russian rotorcraft also delivered more than 100,000 metric tons of humanitarian aid and in some cases carried more than 50 people on each flight.

The Mi-8/171 series of helicopters has been operating in the People’s Republic since 1972 and there are now more than 300 in service there. The Ulan-Ude plant has been responsible for exports to China since 1993.

The conference drew more than 120 representatives of Mi-8/171 operators from 15 countries, including China, the Czech Republic, the Slovak Republic, Mongolia, Pakistan, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Armenia and Russia. UUAP managing director Leonid Belykh reported that the factory has produced more than 4,500 Mi-8s and Mi-171s, which have been delivered to more than 30 countries.

Kazim Abasov, a flight engineer with an Azerbaijani Mi-171 operator, told the conference that the aircraft is an ideal workhorse for flights through rough weather to and from offshore oil and gas platforms in the Caspian Sea. Recently the government of Azerbaijan ordered six new Mi-171s, including one in executive configuration, to be delivered next year.

UUAP has been improving its product support for the Mi-8/171 helicopters. To that end, the manufacturer recently established a new service center in Sudan, which is run as a joint venture with the Novosibirsk Aircraft Repair Plant.