Russia’s new Mil Mi-38 heavy transport helicopter has finally received Russian-made powerplants. The Russian Helicopters holding company, that now incorporates the Mil design bureau, reported this week that the third Mi-38 prototype equipped with a pair of Klimov TV7-117V turboshaft engines successfully started flight trials in the national helicopter engineering center in Tomilino, near Moscow.

The first hover was actually completed on Nov. 13 while the first circuit flight around the Tomilino center was conducted on Nov. 29.

TV7-117V turboshaft, with an emergency power of 2,800-3,750 hp, is a helicopter derivative of the TV7-117SM engine that powered initial versions of Ilyushin Il-114 regional turboprops. The engine features a new FADEC system and its installation on Mil-38s required the development of a connecting unit between the main rotor gearbox and the engine, optimization of the cooling systems for the engine and main gearbox, and improvement of the automatic engine management system, says Russian Helicopters. An Mi-38 fitted with TV7-117 engines was first shown at the static display of the MAKS air show in Zhukovsky, near Moscow, in 2011.

“Construction of a test batch of the TV7-117Vs will begin shortly for certification testing, which is planned for the end of 2014,” says Vladislav Masalov, CEO of the United Engine Corporation, Klimov’s parent company.

The development of the Mi-38 started in the late 1980s. The first flight took place in 2003, but due to delays with the TV7-117 development the first two prototypes were equipped with 2,500 hp Pratt & Whitney Canada PW127XS turboshafts. In 2008 Pratt & Whitney Canada and Russian Helicopters even signed a memorandum of understanding covering the licensed assembly of these engines in Russia. But Russian Helicopters now insists that all production Mi-38s will be equipped with the Russian-made engines.

Nevertheless, the Moscow office of United Technologies confirmed to Aviation Week that Pratt & Whitney Canada continues to participate in the Mi-38 program, with its engines installed on the second prototype. According to the Russian manufacturer, this prototype has produced “outstanding results during extensive testing in 2012-2013.” At the 14th FAI World Helicopter Championship held in August 2012 near Moscow, a PW127XS-powered Mi-38 set an altitude without payload record in the E-1h category (for helicopters between 10,000kg and 20,000kg), climbing to 8,600m.

Russian Helicopters says that the Mi-38 is expected to be certified under the Russian AP-29 standards in 2015. Its production is to be launched the same year at the Kazan Helicopters facility that is assembling the fourth prototype. According to the manufacturer, it will be fitted with a shock-resistant fuel system by Aerazur and enlarged window openings. With a maximum take-off weight of 15,600kg and an ability to carry up to six tons inside the cabin, the Mi-38 was designed to fill a niche between the medium Mi-8/17 and the giant Mi-26 helicopters.