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Russian Helicopters moves into China
Fire fighting and cargo transport demonstration flights have attracted interest from the Chinese audience. Russian Mi-171 helicopters with VK-2500-03 engines are now certified in China.
The Mi-171 helicopter with the VK-2500-03 engine now certified in China.

China's CAA has issued a national type certificate for the Mi-171 helicopter with VK-2500-03 engines. This gives Russian Helicopters Holding Company, part of Rostec State Corporation, an opportunity to supply machines of this type to China.

“China has about 20 civilian Mi-8/17 helicopters,” says CEO Andrey Boginsky, “and we had previously noted several times that national operators are interested in the latest versions of this type. Cooperation between Rostec's holding companies has made the Mi-171 more attractive for business, having reduced the cost of its operation thanks to using new technologies.”

In late 2018 Russian Helicopters performed some demonstration flights in China for the Mi-171 with the VK-2500-03 engine. The heads of the Chinese Ministry of Emergency Management and the CAA of China saw the transport capabilities of the machine as it performed cargo transportation on an external sling, fire fighting in high mountains and flights with a helicopter bucket.

“Helicopter construction is one of the key areas of cooperation between Rostec and our Chinese counterparts,” says the State Corporation director for international cooperation and regional policy department Viktor Kladov. “We are constantly working on the expansion of cooperation areas in this industry; and this includes the supply of machines, retrofitting, authorisation and certification of existing technical service centres and the creation of new ones and, of course, our project with China to create advanced heavy lift helicopters.”

Fighting fires and transporting cargo at an altitude of up to 3,300 m, the Mi-171 helicopters with VK-2500-03 engines demonstrated key advantages such as the thrust-to-weight ratio and safety of operation in the mountains. During the demonstration flight, the helicopter carried three tons of cargo and nine passengers from an altitude of 2,600 m up to 3,300 m. The machine also showed how it takes 3.5 tons of water in the helicopter bucket at 3,000 m and then pours it in the centre of the fire. On the ground, as part of a static show, people could also see how quickly passengers and firemen could get on and off the machine.

The VK-2500-03 engine, designed and supplied by JSC UEC-Klimov, is very powerful (compared to the TV3-117VM engine, series 02) in any flight mode and at any altitude due to its heat-resistant materials and improved design. The introduction of the BARK-78 digital automatic control system makes running the engine more efficient, ensures closer control over operations in all modes and makes the operation simpler. The use of VK-2500-03 engines in Mi-171 helicopters ensures higher load capacity and increases the absolute and static ceiling. Additionally, greater available engine power in an emergency mode improves safety during the flight with one running engine.