So, I was looking around for prices of the Bell 412, Blackhawk and Mil Mi 8/17 prices, and the Bell 412, despite being a lot smaller than the Mi8, was US$2mil more than the Mi8.

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    $\begingroup$ source for prices? New or used? $\endgroup$
    – Jpe61
    Sep 16, 2019 at 9:13
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    $\begingroup$ The cost of these types of aircraft is so much more than just the window sticker. Take into account getting it serviced (an Mi8 might be a good alternative to the Bell 412 if you are only operating it in Russia), spare parts, lead time, availability of service centers, etc. That Mi8 might be cheap, but try containerizing it and sending it to Russia for service every year or two... $\endgroup$
    – Ron Beyer
    Sep 16, 2019 at 12:50
  • $\begingroup$ There might also be some currency conversion & export factors to be considered, for much the same reason that it is (or was, last I looked) cheaper to buy former Soviet bloc jet fighters than US ones. $\endgroup$
    – jamesqf
    Sep 16, 2019 at 18:07
  • $\begingroup$ Everybody knows it costs more to make things smaller & lighter. $\endgroup$
    – CrossRoads
    Sep 16, 2019 at 18:16
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    $\begingroup$ Because they are of better quality than Russian helicopters? $\endgroup$
    – Koyovis
    Sep 21, 2019 at 7:21

2 Answers 2


It's just market.

Like most markets, it's not even entirely rational. In the end, people may just have preferences. It commonly happens that a car X is cheaper than Y (and/or depreciates more), despite being better on every objective measure as a vehicle. But on the Y's side may be long-term reputation, familiarity, etc.

Still, there are many perfectly rational reasons for such disparity (lower cost of Russian aircraft), particularly in the West.

  • Service cost and, even more importantly, its availability. Russia is not particularly renown for its after-sales service, even within the country. A grounded aircraft is a big money drain.
  • Likewise, availability and cost of pilots for such less common aircraft. This includes training, licensing them etc.
  • Typically higher fuel consumption per unit payload (for the same generation of aircraft).
  • Typically smaller service intervals and shorter overall lifetime. This is partly due to military origin of most Soviet/Russian helicopters.
  • Depreciation and later sale prospects. This is somewhat a vicious circle, but it's an important factor affecting purchasing decision.

Since no one else has answered I would assume this is almost entirely down to regulator costs. Organisations like the FAA and EASA require so many independent tests and paperwork its probably harder in a "western" country to certify an aircraft than to design one. If you can find a Russian aircraft that meets western certification it should be more comparable in price to western aircraft. You will likely find that non-Russian helicopters that are not certified for normal flight operations (ie. X-military, experimental), are comparable in price to similar Russian aircraft.

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    $\begingroup$ Mi-8 and Mi-17 are operated all over the world including western countries, so they are almost certainly certified just like the Bell ones. $\endgroup$
    – Jan Hudec
    Sep 5, 2020 at 20:39
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    $\begingroup$ Many (most?) of the ones I have scene are used exclusively for stuff like helicopter logging, those are often operated under less strict maintenance and inspection rules. I do not have personal experience with the exact rules they operate under. $\endgroup$ Sep 5, 2020 at 21:16

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