Air Transportation: September 22, 2004


Kazakhstan is buying 20 Russian Mi-8 helicopters. Actually, they will get the Mi-17, which is the export version of the Mi-8. The Mi-8 is a twin-engine helicopter, roughly equivalent to the U.S. UH-1. But the Mi-8/17 is still in production and is the most widely exported (2,800 out of 12,000 made) helicopter on the planet. The Mi-8 is about twice the size and weight of the UH-1, but only hauls about 50 percent more cargo.

However, the Mi-8 had a larger interior, and can carry 24 troops, versus a dozen in the UH-1. The UH-1 was replaced by the UH-60 in the 1980s, while the Mi-8 just kept adding better engines and electronics to the basic Mi-8 frame. The UH-60, while weighing as much as the UH-1 (4.8 tons), could carry as much as the 12 ton Mi-8. But the Mi-8 costs about half as much as a UH-60, and the larger interior is popular with many users. Russia also offers lower rates for training pilots and mechanics. While the UH-60 is a safer helicopter to travel in, the Mi-17 accident rate is comparable if it gets good maintenance. But one of the benefits of the Mi-17 is that it can get by with less maintenance effort. The Russians build their aircraft to keep going, although with a higher accident rate, in rugged conditions and with poor maintenance. Thus high ranking politicians and military people will confidently fly in well maintained Mi-17s, while the rest of their Mi-17 fleet suffers higher accident rates because they cannot afford the same high degree (more man hours and spare parts) of maintenance.

The Mi-8 has gone through many upgrades since it was introduced in 1960s. The Mi-17 is not only the export version, it is also one of the more advanced versions. More powerful, and reliable, engines, plus better electronics and finish make this version more attractive in the international market. The Mi-8 usually weighs about 12 tons, while the Mi-17 is about 13 tons. The Russians do, after all, want to impress their foreign customers and get repeat sales. On both counts they have succeeded. The Mi-8 and Mi-17 is used in 70 different countries.


Article Archive

Air Transportation: Current 2022 2021 2020 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 1999 



Help Keep Us Soaring

We need your help! Our subscription base has slowly been dwindling. We need your help in reversing that trend. We would like to add 20 new subscribers this month.

Each month we count on your subscriptions or contributions. You can support us in the following ways:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage. A contribution is not a donation that you can deduct at tax time, but a form of crowdfunding. We store none of your information when you contribute..
Subscribe   Contribute   Close