The first Mi-26 Halo prototype had its first flight in December 1977. At the Paris Air Show in 1981, it was seen in public for the first time. The Mi-26 is the largest commercially-produced helicopter in the world.
The Mi-26 was created as a helicopter offering a load capacity twice as big as any other helicopter. With its cargo area measuring 12 meters long by 3.2 meters wide, the Halo has the load capacity of a domestic C-130 transport plane. Its maximum load is 70-100 passengers, or 5000kg. It weighs 28,200kg, and has a maximum take-off weight of 56,000kg.
The Mi-26 is the first helicopter to successfully fly with an eight-blade main rotor. Made of composites and aluminum alloys, with a leading edge made of titanium, this rotor is 32m in diameter. This helicopter is powered by two Lotarev D-136 turboshaft engines and flies at a maximum speed of 295 km/h, and its range is 1,952km.
Four to five crew members are necessary to fly the Mi-26. (The pilot, co-pilot, flight engineer, navigator and electronic radio operator.) It is generally equipped with a Groza 7A813 weather radar, a Doppler, a GPS, an integrated PKV-26-1 flight navigation system, map display, an automatic flight control system, horizontal situation indicator (HSI), and an automatic hover system.
There were numerous variants of the Mi-26 Halo buil over the years, including the Mi-26A, Mi-26M, Mi-26MS, Mi-26NEF-M, Mi-26P, Mi-27, and more.