Wednesday, November 14, 2012
Russian Helicopters Advances 'High-Speed' Rachel Project
Moscow-based Russian Helicopters has unveiled more details on its Russian Advanced Commercial Helicopter (Rachel). The Rachel program is meant as an eventual replacement for the Mi-8/17 family. The “high-speed” medium twin will be capable of 194 knots, thanks to “streamlined main rotor blades and fuselage.” At 10 to 12 metric tons (22,000 to 26,400 pounds), it will have a seating capacity of 21 to 24 passengers. Also dubbed V-37, Rachel has a conventional configuration with one main rotor and one tail rotor. In the baseline configuration, it will have a convertible passenger/cargo cabin. It will use new—but so far unspecified—turboshaft engines.
Mil, which is part of Russian Helicopters, plans to build a flying testbed in 2013 to assess technologies pitched for the V-37. The results of these tests should be analyzed by 2014. The next phase will be supplier selection. Certification is then slated for 2018, with deliveries to follow in 2020.
The Rachel concept, here shown as a small-scale model at the Farnborough 2012 air show, targets cruise speeds as high as 194 knots. Photo by Thierry Dubois
The target cruise speed, not as high as the 220-250 knots Eurocopter and Sikorsky are talking about with their respective X3 and X2 demonstrators, was defined after some market analysis. This enabled the manufacturer to define the future model’s technical priorities and specifications. Russian Helicopters also ran a feasibility and risk-assessment study.
Mil and Kamov design bureaus in 2011 and 2012 competed in a contest for the best conceptual design of a high-speed helicopter. The Mil design was found to “better reflect the demands of the market.”
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