The Nigerian Air Force procured Mil Mi-34C (NATO code Hermit) helicopters around 2002 with the intention of using them for ab initio training. In July 2011, HeliHub.com reported that they had all been withdrawn from use – reportedly due to main gearbox issues – with the intention of disposing of them. The Mi-34C is powered by a Vedeneyev M14V nine-cylinder radial engine developing 325hp.
By December 2013, six of the original batch (variously reported as 8 or 12 in total) arrived in New Zealand after they had been acquired by an unnamed purchaser. One of these – coded NAF 557 with msn 9783034102005 – is being rebuilt by Heli Maintenance at Christchurch Airport, and has started ground runs and blade balancing. The helicopter has a manufacture date of 28th November 2001 and has accumulated all of 127 flying hours, with its last flight being in 2003. Some inspection from the local CAA is likely to follow soon, and the intention would be to put it on the register and fly it in the not too distant future. The owner has experience of operating ex-military helicopters on the NZ civil register.
The other five aircraft remain in storage in the Christchurch area, with one in a damaged condition and likely only for spares use. They are
Photo © 2014 Dave Paull and used his with his express permission
Jeremy Parkin – HeliHub .com
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