Russia And China Partner On Huge Helicopter

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An agreement between Russian Helicopters Holding and Avicopter of China may produce an Mi-26-type helicopter weighing in between 30 and 35 tons, if details are ironed out. The two partners hope to arrive at technical decisions regarding the new aircraft this fall, according to The Voice of Russia. The Mi-26, which is similar in empty weight, has a maximum takeoff weight near 120,000 pounds. It has been called the heaviest and most powerful helicopter in the world and can carry up to 150 tightly packed people (90 is more common). It flies under an eight-blade rotor spanning 105 feet, driven by two turboshaft engines that can propel the aircraft at 180 mph. The Mi-26 won respect from the Chinese government for its participation in rescue efforts following a 2008 earthquake in China.

The helicopter's development program has yet to define the aircraft's main purpose as military or commercial. All potential uses are still under study. Meanwhile, the two companies are working to define their roles in the development and production of the aircraft. Russia's participant, Helicopters Holding, is among the leading producers of heavy helicopters in the world. But the company has plans to expand its range of offerings to medium and light helicopters.