On Monday 3 September, the Mi-26TC helicopter, which can lift the heaviest loads in the world, flew out from Rostov-on-Don in Russia for Harbin in China. It took off from the airdrome of Rostvertol plc, where the rotorcraft was built, and was to take six days to reach Harbin, via Samara, Novosibirsk, Chelyabinsk, Irkutsk, and Chita.
The multipurpose helicopter is delivered according to a contract with Lectern Aviation Company for a three-year lease. The helicopter can lift up to 20 tonnes, in the cargo hold or on an external sling.
In China, it will be used for firefighting and for installation of electric power lines. Shortly after it arrives the Mi-26TC helicopter will perform demonstration flights to show its lifting capabilities, watched by high-ranking officials from the ministry of forestry, army aviation, and from large companies like the China Flying Dragon Special Aviation (operator of the helicopter), China National Electricity Grid Construction Ltd (installs electric power lines) and China Eastern Airline Special Aviation (a freight carrier).
The Mi-26TC is a unique helicopter. Using removable modular equipment, it can be quickly transformed into an aerial-delivery vehicle, an air ambulance, a fire-fighter, and a refueller. These helicopters have actively worked in Sierra-Leone, Mexico, Malaysia, Cambodia, Laos, Greece, Canada, Afghanistan, Congo, Liberia, Uganda and Sudan, performing a variety of roles.
The Mi-26T can transport heavy cargo, mount electric power lines, large mast-antennae, and take part in industrial construction. It is also very effective for firefighting, extinguishing forest fires in Greece. It can operate in mountainous terrain as well as in dense smoke. The helicopter has proven its reliability and efficiency in the most difficult conditions, operating far away from its maintenance base.
The Mi-26T helicopter has been used to put up the cable car in Innsbruck, Austria, in 2006. It has also participated in the humanitarian missions, delivering food and living essentials to the victims of the earthquake in the high mountainous regions of Pakistan.
If the Mi-26TC helicopter demonstrates a good performance, the Chinese will consider the possibility of acquiring a batch of them.