European Aviation News

Turning to the East

Russia is still waiting for its chance to join Europe’s Future Transport Helicopter (FTH) program, but may instead develop a similar heavylift rotorcraft together with China.
According to the Russian Helicopters holding company, the contacts with Eurocopter on FTH program have been suspended after it became clear that the European manufacturer was hoping to develop the 36-ton helicopter jointly with a US partner. Specific mention was made of Sikorsky, which is currently working on a heavylift project of its own — the CH-53K helicopter. Russia, for its part, was offering to supply the European partners with the expertise gained from the development of the 56-tonnes Mil Mi-26 — the world’s heaviest rotorcraft to date.
At the same time Russia stands a good chance to join China’s program to create a 35-ton Advance Heavy Lifter helicopter that is currently gaining pace, says Russian Helicopters director Andrey Shibitov. Russian and Chinese specialists are already looking into possibilities of cooperation in this area and conduct the associated research. According to Shibitov, the conceptual design phase will be finished this autumn.
Russia’s greatest challenge in working with China will be the preservation of intellectual property. "We have studied this issue thoroughly and are now ready to word the relevant agreement in such a way as to eliminate the risks," Shibitov says.