MAKS 2011: New Russian light helicopter unveiled
A new light, coaxial helicopter was displayed to the public for the first time at the MAKS air show outside Moscow from 16 to 21 August.
Manufacturer Berkut hopes that the helicopter, the Berkut VL, will be able to cut into the market share that Robinson Helicopters holds within Russia for training and sport helicopters with its R22 and R44 machines.
Berkut’s development director Dmitry Rumyantsev told Shephard that the two-seat helicopter had been under development for less than three years and the company hoped to carry out the first flight of the aircraft at the end of September.
‘This is a real prototype, with a real engine and real equipment inside,’ Rumyantsev said.
‘There are several patents for various parts of the helicopter. After the first flight we will move towards certification and we expect that at the end of 2012 there will be a full programme.’
The Berkut VL is being developed at a plant in Tolyatti in central Russia, which is expected to produce 15 per month once full production begins. This is tentatively scheduled for the end of 2012 to the first six months of 2013.
Rumyantsev said development had been aided by the amount of aerospace companies in the region, resulting in a ready logistics chain.
With a take-off weight of 740 kg, the Berkut VL will have a maximum speed of 174 km/h and range of 380 km. Developers believe that the flying characteristics of the coaxial helicopter will result in an aircraft that is both easier to fly for new pilots and provides an obvious transition path for those moving onto larger Russian coaxial rotorcraft such as the Ka-32 or Ka-226.
Rumyantsev said the aircraft would be competitively priced against the R22 and with the 147hp engine able to run on gasoline 95 would be cheaper to operate. Buyers will have the option of a Lycoming O-320 or Russian ConverVAZ engine.
As well as the domestic market, the company also hopes to offer the aircraft to North and South America operators. Dependent on progress with the two-seat Berkut VL, the company also plans for a four-seat version of the aircraft.
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