In June 2012, Russian Helicopters presented a mock-up of the Russian Advanced Commercial Helicopter (RACHEL), which is being developed under the high-speed rotorcraft program. RACHEL is planned as a 10-12-ton commercial utility helicopter capable of carrying 21-24 passengers. It is meant as an eventual replacement for the Mi-8/17 family, whose latest modernized version, the Mi-171A2, will shortly become available. Russian Helicopters expects RACHEL to join the heavier Mi-38 transport in strengthening the corporation’s positions on international markets.
The Russian manufacturer has already conducted a market analysis, defined the future model’s technical priorities and specifications, and run a feasibility and risk-assessment study. In the course of discussions with potential commercial customers the developers arrived at the conclusion that high speed is not currently a key priority frame price.
"High efficiency of commercial operations was our main criterion in developing the concept of the new helicopter," says Petrov. "A joint market study in cooperation with helicopter operators allowed us to define a number of key parameters to be implemented, and to arrive at several conceptual solutions which we believe will fortunately combine innovative technology, environmental friendliness, and high economic efficiency."
Mil and Kamov in 2011 and 2012 ran against each other in a contest for the best conceptual design of a high-speed helicopter. Both designs received high marks from the Russian Helicopters jury panel. The Mil design however was found to better reflect the demands of the market, so this design house will now continue work on the RACHEL program.
RACHEL, dubbed V-37 by the developers, is a classic helicopter design with one main rotor and one tail rotor. In its baseline configuration it will have a convertible passenger/cargo cabin. The helicopter will have two new turboshaft engines, a new-generation main rotor, and advanced avionics. The V-37’s range and cruise speed are expected to be significantly higher than those of the Mi-8/17 family. The prospective rotorcraft will be able to travel at up to 360 kph, primarily thanks to streamlined main rotor blades and fuselage.
Mil plans to build a flying testbed in 2013 to verify technology solutions being proposed for the V-37. The results of these tests should be analyzed by 2014, after which Russian Helicopters expects to select primary suppliers in a tender. Certification of the future helicopter is set for 2018, with deliveries to follow in 2020.