Tawazun Signs LoI For 100 VRT500 helicopters

Aeroter displays the VRT500 engineering prototype at Dubai Airshow 2021.
Credit: Maxim Pyadushkin

DUBAI—The UAE defense and security acquisitions authority Tawazun Economic Council has signed a letter of intent to purchase 100 VRT500 light single helicopters from Aeroter. 

Singapore-based Aeroter, the new name of VR-Technologies, came into being after its parent, Russian Helicopters, sold 50% of the business to Tawazun earlier this year.

The delivery of 100 VRT500 is expected to start by the end of 2023. Russian Helicopters CEO Andrey Boginsky told ShowNews on Nov. 14 that the first flight was expected in 2022. 

The first flight prototype will be assembled some time during the first three months of 2022. “We have the fuselage ready,” Boginsky added.

He confirmed that the VRT500 displayed by Aeroter at this year’s show was an engineering prototype with major components installed. The designers have already selected the 290-hp Pratt & Whitney Canada PW207V turboshaft, Thales FlytX avionics suite, Liebherr-Aerospace air-conditioning system and an Avio Aero-developed gearbox for the new helicopter. The exterior and interior design for the serial aircraft has been outsourced to Italdesign.

Aeroter revealed at Dubai Airshow that it had selected the Swiss simulator company Bruner Elektronik to produce a virtual-reality full-motion simulator for the VRT500, which will be used for demos and test flights at trade shows.

An Aeroter representative confirmed to ShowNews that the VRT assembly is taking place at former the Breda Nardini facility in Monteprandone, Italy. VR-Technologies acquired it via the purchase of Vertex Aero in May 2020. The latter already has the necessary European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) design organization approval, which allows Aeroter to test and certify the VRT500 under European standards. The company expects certification of the VRT500 under EASA jurisdiction in 2024.

Aeroter reported that the first 20 helicopters from the production line were already sold and scheduled for delivery to customers in Europe and Asia. “We plan to start deliveries of the VRT500 and are aiming to secure a 10% share of the global rotorcraft market for single turbine-engined helicopters between 2024 and 2042,” Aeroter CEO Alexander Okhonko said.

The VRT500 has a maximum take-off weight of 1,900 kg (4,190 lb.) and can carry five people or a payload of 800 kg internally. The inner space of the passenger cabin is 5.3 m³ (187 ft.³) with two side doors and one rear door. The helicopter will have a speed of up to 240 km/hr. and can fly 630-900 km, depending on the configuration of the fuel tank.

Maxim Pyadushkin

In addition to writing for Aviation Week Network, Maxim holds a key position at Russia's Air Transport Observer magazine. In the past he was in charge of several ATO’s sister aerospace publications and earlier worked for Moscow-based CAST defense think-tank.