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by Aeromedia - corso Giambone 46/18 - 10135 Torino (Italy)

World Largest Helicopter for Fire-fighting Activity in Italy

For the second consecutive year, two Mil Mi-26 Russian giant helicopters will be used in Italy as fire-fighters. The programme, on behalf of the Civil Protection Authority, is managed by ETI 2000, an helicopter air-work company based in Aosta.
As in summer 1999, both aircraft will be based in Lamezia Terme, Calabria, the southernmost and mountainous part of the peninsula. The massive twin-turboshaft helicopters, leased from Belgian specialized operator Skytech Helicopter Service, are equipped with two 10,000 litres external baskets.
Mil Mi-26 has a maximum payload of 20 ton and the internal cargo compartment has a 121 m3 volume; the fuselage length is more than 33 m and the diameter of the main rotor is 32 m. The Mil-26 prototype was flown on 14 December 1977 and series production is still in progress, though at a low rate, with a total output of about 300 aircraft. Mil Mi-26 made its impressive western debut at the 1981 Paris Air Show.
The dynasty of the giant Russian helicopters dates back to the early fifties, when the development of a new 27-ton (empty weight) twin-turboshaft aircraft began. The resulting Mil Mi-6 (dubbed Hook in the NATO code system) made its first flight on 5 June 1957. From this outstanding ancestor, produced till 1981in civil and military variants for a grand total of 860, soon the Mi-10 (Harke) flying crane derived. It was a flattened fuselage and long legged variant of the Mi-6, able to carry huge external loads.
At the end of the sixties Mil Mi-12 ("Homer") appeared, so large an helicopter that its fuselage was 37 m long and 4 m wide. It was powered by two complete engine groups taken from Mi-6 and placed at the tips of two heavily braced wings. Homer had a 105-ton maximum take-off weight and, with turning rotors, a width of approximately 67 m, slightly less than the wing span of the Galaxy! The extremely ambitious requirements of Mi-12, which however established many new records in its class and remains the largest helicopter ever built, suggested to end the programme at the prototype stage.
At the end of the '70, Mi-26 made its debut. Despite a larger fuselage and more powerful engines, its design roots are the same as the original Mi-6.

In the pictures: two shots of the Skytech Mil Mi-26 RA-06041 used by ETI 2000 as a fire-fighter. Pictures taken at Aosta airport. (photo by Aeromedia)

(Aeromedia, March 2000)

Mil Mi-26
Mil Mi-26
Mil Mi-10
Mil Mi-6